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15 things you may not know about historic Hong Kong brands

  • Despite being a small city, Hong Kong has had a huge impact in the world of business, and many of its home-grown companies are now international names. Here are some of their stories.

1. When were Po Chai Pills originally launched?

Po Chai Pills, a gastrointestinal remedy with an authentic Chinese medicinal formula, which contains 14 herbs, has become a household brand in Hong Kong. It is regarded as an antidote to diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion and cold symptoms. Learn more

2. What's the secret to Vitasoy’s unchanged taste?

Vitasoy has become a quintessential Hong Kong brand since its introduction in 1940. visited the Vitasoy factory in Tuen Mun, where more than 290 million litres of beverages are produced every year. Learn more

3. How did Chow Tai Fook go from goldsmith to jewellery conglomerate?

The name Chow Tai Fook has become synonymous with jewellery in Hong Kong, but its roots are actually on the Chinese mainland. Learn more

4.  What is the oldest business in Hong Kong?

Opened in 1858, the A.S. Watson dispensary is Hong Kong's oldest business. Learn more
A Watsons shopfront in Times Square, Causeway Bay. A.S. Watson is the city’s oldest retailer. Photo: Antony Dickson

5. How was ‘Made in Hong Kong’ built as a trusted mark of quality?

Forcing the ‘Made in China’ label upon Hong Kong-manufactured goods has squandered an international recognition of quality. Learn more
The Nanyang cotton mill in Hong Kong in 1950. Photo: Getty Images

6. How was Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce invented?

The company founder accidentally overcooked some oysters. Learn more
Lee Kum Kee’s premium line of oyster sauce. Picture: Xiaomei Chen

7. What is the meaning of the name Po Chai Pills?

Cure-all pills. Learn more
Despite the use of more modern packaging methods, each box of Po Chai Pills looks the same as it has for decades. Photo: Po Chai Pills

8. What inspired the founder of Eu Yang Sang to make herbal medicine?

The poor condition of Chinese miners in Malaysia. Learn more
Staff at Eu Yan Sang’s Chinese medicine shop in Central dispensing Chinese herbs in the 1980s. The company now has 248 retail outlets and 34 clinics in Asia and further afield. Photo: SCMP

9. What was the original product sold by fast-food chain Cafe de Coral?

Hamburgers. Learn more
Peter Lo (left), CEO of Café de Coral, and managing director Daren Lau. Photo: Edward Wong

10. What is the lens of the classic Holga toy camera made from?

Plastic. Learn more
Lee Ting-mo, inventor of the Holga camera, at his office in Hong Kong. Picture: Manami Okazaki

11. What health problem was the inventor of Vitasoy trying to solve?

Malnutrition among refugees fleeing China's civil war. Learn more
First tetrapak design of Vitasoy in 1975. Photo: courtesy of Vitasoy

12. Why was this iconic flask named after the camel?

Because the animal can survive long period without water. Learn more
Raymond Leung with a display of Camel vacuum flasks at the Camlux Hotel, opened in the former flask factory. Photo: Jonathan Wong

13. How many stores does Chow Tai Fook now operate?

More than 4,000 worldwide. Learn more
An employee handles a gold jewellery set inside a display case at a Chow Tai Fook shop in Hong Kong. The gold and jewellery retailer has more than 4,000 outlets worldwide. Photo: Bloomberg

14. What is the nickname of the cure-all White Flower Oil?

Old lady perfume. Learn more
A bottle of White Flower oil, a staple in Chinese family medicine cabinets for decades. Photo: James Wendlinger

15. How big was the original Sasa cosmetics store?

A tiny 40 square feet. Learn more
Simon Kwok, chairman and CEO of Sa Sa, with his wife, Eleanor, the firm’s vice-chairwoman, in Causeway Bay. Photo: Edmond So