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Nov 20, 2012 07:19 PM

La Choy: WTF?

[rant ON]

For years, Mrs. ricepad and I have been teasing our kids that they don't know what truly bad Chinese food is, and have mock-threatened them with a dinner of La Choy or Chung King canned Chinese food so they'll know that even the worst takeout is far from the bottom of the spectrum. To be honest, I had never had canned Chinese food, either - Mom was born in China, spoke only Chinese (Toishanese) until she was 6, and learned to cook at her mother's knee - but Mrs. ricepad had pretty much ONLY had the canned variety until she moved away to college.

So the other day I'm doing the grocery shopping and what should my wandering eye fall upon but a La Choy Chicken Chow Mein 'kit' with the two cans taped together. I decide that it's now or never, so I grab a 'kit', assuming it's noodles in the big can and veggies/meat in the other. Only after I get home do I read the label: "Serving Suggestion: Serve over rice or with La Choy Chow Mein Noodles".

WHAT?? This 'chow mein' doesn't have any noodles in it? WTF does La Choy Foods, Inc, think "mein" means? I'm surprised the instructions don't advise you to add chicken to it, too!

[rant OFF]

Thank you. I feel so much better. Back to your lives, citizens.

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  1. I'll have you know that when I was twelve years old La Choy Chicken Chow Mein was a VERY big deal. And we always had to have it with the accompanying can of La Choy crispy noodles. I bought some for my brother last Christmas, just for the memories...(and yes, I was at least ten before I had any kind of cheese that wasn't individually-wrapped slices of Kraft American Cheese. Those were the days.)

    8 Replies
    1. re: tonifi

      OMG....those crispy "noodles". Memories....

      Yeah, I get that it's not "Chinese" but darn those things were addictive.

      1. re: pedalfaster

        Especially when used as the crunch in no-bake 'haystack cookies'

        1. re: pedalfaster

          Sorry to post this but the last bag of La Choy Chow Mein Noodles I purchased weren't very good. Must have gotten a bad batch fried in almost rancid oil.

            1. re: Kholvaitar

              They might have been on the shelf of the store too long.

              1. re: Kholvaitar

                I think that even in closed packaging, the turnover is so low that they go rancid anyway.

                1. re: Kholvaitar

                  I haven't seen them sold in a plastic bag since the early 80's. Did you check the sell by date?

                  The ones I have seen since the early 80's come in a can.

                  1. re: JMF

                    Hubby just bought some in a bag in November -- he wanted me to make the Christmas candy with them (they were fresh, with an expiry date far enough out that they weren't very old when he bought them)

            2. They used to have an egg foo yung kit and my my made it often. I remember loving that stuff. I generally don't love eggs, so that explains why I still order it on occasion.


                1. You mean like how "Hamburger Helper" has no, um, hamburger in it?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    No, not at all. It's not "Chicken Chow Mein Helper."

                    More like if I had purchased a package of frozen enchiladas and the package said: "Serving Suggestion: Top with red or green chile sauce." Or a package of cheeseburgers that said, "Add your favorite cheese!"

                  2. Haha, I didn't even realize La Choy was still in business! I guess I'm too busy staring suspiciously at the "pad thai" kits in the Asian aisle.
                    Edit--curiosity got me. They're not only in business, but they've got variety!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: alliegator

                      I actually loved those La Choy (and Chung King) mini egg rolls. Alas, they've gone away like so much that was great.

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        There's a brand called Ling Ling that has pretty decent mini chicken eggrolls. Maybe they'd be acceptable?

                        1. re: alliegator

                          Maybe. But I've just discovered that Michelina's (of all companies!) makes mini egg rolls that look identical to the old La Choy/Chun King. Perhaps "she" purchased the recipe and production methods when Chun King went under? At any rate, if I can find them I will buy them.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Makes sense since Michelina's, Chun King, Jeno's, and the birth of the pizza roll were all the brainchild of Jeno Paulucci

                        2. re: Perilagu Khan

                          These (La Choy mini egg rolls, not Ling Ling, which I shall furtively seek) were the staple for my mom and me on New Years Eve when my dad had to work. GREAT memories.

                          As for the La Choy (sing it with me...La Choy makes Chinese food that swings American!)
                          my mom would "doctor up" the canned Beef Chow Mein with stir-fried beef and a can of water chestnuts, and a couple of shakes of wine vinegar and hot sauce. So sophisticated back in 1979!

                          1. re: pinehurst

                            Haha :) I think I don't have and c. 1980 La Choy memories because I was lucky enough to have the China Queen on my dad's work-home route.
                            I get my Ling Ling at Super Target, btw.