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(Not) Made in China

September 30, 2016

Economists estimate that as much as 90% of all retail goods available in the United States are made overseas, particularly in China. These products include stereos, plastic toys, cups, belts, TVs, shoes, T-shirts, backpacks, telephones, coffee makers, toasters, and even religious memorabilia, just to name a few. Even though so many things are made in China, the things you might assume come from China probably don’t.

Not Made in China

Fine China

Most fine china plates are bone china, a high-quality porcelain. The majority of the world’s china is made not in China, but in England, Italy, and the United States.


The phrase “not for all the tea in China” is misleading—India is the world’s largest grower of black tea, accounting for a third of the world’s supply. China, where tea originated, produces 10%.


Ever seen an old movie with a scene of Chinese men relaxing in an opium den? Opium isn’t Chinese. The British smuggled it into China from India.


Rice is closely associated with Chinese food. But China isn’t the world’s largest exporter. Not even close. Thailand shipped 7.5 million tons of rice in 2002. China exported only 2 million.

Chinese Food

General Tso’s chicken was invented in New York in 1972. Fried wonton originated at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

China Dolls

They were never made in China. Germany, France, and Denmark began making these porcelain dolls in the 1840s.

Fortune Cookies

They were invented in 1914 at San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden. While there are now fortune cookie factories in China, most are made by the Wonton Food Company in New York—they churn out 2.5 million cookies daily.

Chinese Checkers

Based on Halma, an earlier game played on a square board. Pressman Brothers created a star-shaped game board in 1928 and called it Chinese Checkers to capitalize on the popularity of mah-jongg.
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