Really? Chinese Noodle Shop Owner Confesses to Lacing Meals with Opiates to Get Customers Returning for More

The South China Morning Post confirmed its story earlier this week that a noodle shop owner in the Chinese provincial capital of Xi’an had confessed to Chinese police that he had been secretly including a paste made of poppy pods into his menu items. The article reports that the restaurant owner did so in the hopes of making his customers addicted to his noodles. The owner was subsequently detained by local authorities.

While the act of adding opiates to menu items to improve customer retention is fascinating in and of itself, exactly how the scheme was discovered is no less interesting a tale. The noodle shop scheme was apparently uncovered when a customer who had just finished a meal was selected for a routine urine test as part of a local anti-drunk driving campaign. After testing positive, the customer was arrested. However, protesting that he had never taken drugs, the customer began suspecting that something unsavory had snuck into a meal that he had just eaten immediately prior to his urine test. So this man managed to convince his family to eat at the noodle shop and take over-the-counter drug tests at home.  When they all tested positive for drugs, they contacted police who began an investigation of the restaurant.

The South China Morning Post points out that poppy pods had traditionally been added to some popular hot pot recipes, prior to the banning of the practice. So one might be tempted simply to look at the inclusion of an addictive substance to a dish as a quirky, culturally Chinese approach to keeping consumers happy and coming back for more.

But all one has to do to dispel that notion is to remember that the quintessentially American drink, Coca Cola, only fully eliminated traces of cocaine from its product in 1928 . . .

For more on the positively “addictive” noodle shop story click here.

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