Sunday, September 11, 2011

Marketing and dumplings (Plump Dumpling)

Plump Dumpling sign

"Oh shit, not another dumpling post." I know, I know. I need to stop eating dumplings, but bear with me. I've actually been thinking about else aside from how awesome pockets of meat are... like the effects of proper marketing. When I was still in middle school - just as the first gen iPod was released - I remember I received an unbranded mp3 player as a gift. It was wicked cool to me... it had a gig of memory, could hold what felt like a bajillion songs, and it let me make playlists and all that shit. It was a massive upgrade to the Sony Discman that I only ever bought two CD's for. Pre-teen me probably creamed his pants. Then there was an incident where a more affluent classmate made fun of me on the bus for having a "fake iPod." Why? Is it because he was an asshole? Yes. That part is undoubtedly true, but not my that point. It wasn't as if the iPod was 10x better than my generic player in any sense (as the price would indicate), Apple was just flat out better at marketing their product than my mp3 player's random company did. Apple refined a concept that's totally applicable to food as well. Awesome marketing can bolster a mediocre product.

Plump Dumpling is kind of like that. Prosperity Dumpling is pretty much the tits when it comes to fried pockets-o-pork in Manhattan. Pliant skins, juicy pork, and ridiculously cheap... they have that dumpling shit down to a bro-science. It really is everything you could ever want from fried dumplings. It just doesn't make sense that I'd go anywhere else in the immediate vicinity to get the same thing right? Maybe if you're not an idiot like me. Every single time I walk up through East Village I see that stupid yellow smiling heart hanging over Plump Dumpling. Just look at it - seductive eyelashes, fair complexion, and what appears to be the duck face pose - it's basically saying "come inside of me... eat my dumplings... you know you want to." Epic dumpling slut. Solid marketing. To clarify things, yes... I was indeed seduced by a sign.

More fried dumplings

Trying food from more places is generally a good idea. Old people cooking stuff the same way for the past 20 years is great and all, but there's always something better out in the world. Children are our future... or some nonsense like that. Who knows when Jesus reincarnate will decide to try his hand at making potstickers like the world has never know? The only thing painful about this experiment was that six dumplings cost like $3. I realize that me complaining about a $3 meal makes it sound like I'm a stingy asshole/king of first world problems, but the fact of the matter is... $3 just a mile away would've netted me 15 dumplings from Prosperity, or at the very least 12 from any of a number of other places. From a pure monetary standpoint, these had to taste 200% better than everyone else to make them worth the cost. A tall task indeed.

Pork core

It's not that their dumplings are bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's just that there's really no way for them to match such lofty expectations. In fact, their dumplings have a certain... homemade characteristic which almost makes them feel more nostalgic. They reminded me of the Northern Chinese style dumplings my grandfather would make from scratch way back when - thick chewy skins and a pork core consisting primarily of scallions and garlic (instead of chives). Honestly, if they were priced more competitively, I feel like I would go back. They churn out a decent product that would probably be on par with most of the generic $1 dumpling joints in Chinatown, but are succeeding entirely on the basis of image/location. Just like Apple. Fuckin' Macbooks.

tl;dr - Plump Dumpling has a really cool (to me) logo that features a smiling heart-shaped face that seduces you into eating their dumplings. While their dumplings are actually decent, they're not really worth 3x the amount that Prosperity's are. Moral of the story - don't be deceived by good marketing. Also... I hate Macbooks, and I'm bad at analogies.

Plump Dumpling
174 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003


Rodzilla said...

I'm willing to bet a lot of people will take the hit to save themselves an extra mile walk, especially at the price point.

That logo is pretty killer, but why is it a heart and not a dumpling?

Nicholas said...

Rodzilla - it's in the East Village. Those people are hipsters. Whatever, if they migrate to Prosperity, I can at least say that I liked it before it was cool.

I have no answer to why the logo is a heart and not a dumpling. Possibly because dumplings are amorphous in shape.

Kim said...

I just wanted to say I love your blog and sense of humor. I'm a new transplant to NYC, and your posts have been invaluable when I'm craving Chinese food (esp pork chop rice :D ).
Can I ask what your favorite places in the city are for: 1. beef noodle soup 2. 小籠包?

Danny said...

nothing is ever going to top prosperity. to share a story though, last time i went in and the main dude in there was coughing up a storm and looked like he had SARs. I had to not buy dumplings. it was a sad day for me.

Nicholas said...

Kim - Thanks! Hahaha, apparently that's all I write about now... sorry. I just really like eating pork over rice.

Um... in response to that in numerical order:

1. don't really have one, but if you pressed me for an answer I'd say Lan Zhou on E. Broadway

2. that would be Nan Xiang in Flushing, which is probably as good as 鼎泰豐 in Taipei :)

Danny - we'll see. I don't want to say never, but it'll be hard. I would not have not bought dumplings because of SARs. It is worth it.

joanh said...

You were in middle school when the first Gen iPod came out?!!! You are a baby!!

Nicholas said...

joanh - yeahhh I think 8th grade? or 7th grade? Ha I'm 23 remember?

thefattyreader said...

I didn't like this place either! I was so disappointed because the sign and name were so cute..frickin' misleading!

Nicholas said...

thefattyreader - it's actually Vietnamese, maybe their pho is good? Or their banh mi? But yeah, their dumplings are just kinda... homely, both in appearance and taste.

Marry lee said...

Hey Plump Dumpling

I am very glad and feel very satisfy that since 2008 your still stable as earlier..

Keep it up..

And good luck for your future

Plump Dumpling

Unknown said...

I didn't like this place either! I was so disappointed because the sign and name were so cute..frickin' misleading!
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