Why are bananas ‘forbidden to be green’? China’s latest pun culture trend in the workplace

Recently, a type of banana called ‘banana green’ has become popular. The hashtag #Employees of large factories are leaving to sell banana green with a monthly income of 2 million RMB (approx. 276,000 USD)# (大厂员工离职后卖蕉绿月入200万) even trended on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, garnering 130 million views. ‘Banana green’ refers to unripe green bananas. The trend involves placing these green bananas on workstations, waiting for them to ripen from green to yellow, symbolising the prohibition of anxiety. Many young people have adopted this practice, embracing the pun culture associated with ‘banana green’ as a metaphor for ‘managing anxiety’ (禁止蕉绿).

On the e-commerce platform 7 Fresh APP, ‘banana green’ is priced at 69.9 RMB (approx. 9.65 USD) for 5kg. In comparison, ripe plantains (cooking bananas) generally cost around 7 RMB (approx. 0.97 USD) for 0.5kg. The marketing for ‘banana green’ highlights its hydroponic freshness, promising a transformation from green to yellow within a week.

Following trends like office nap beds and lotteries, ‘banana green’ has become a new workplace subculture. Employees are either busy planting or waiting to eat the bananas, adding a unique dynamic to the office environment.

Lin Wenhai, an ex-employee of large factories who led the trend, explained, ‘Young people enjoy self-mockery. The banana green, with its inherent pun, offers emotional value and a social aspect, aligning well with the needs of young office workers. At its peak, my business processed 10,000 orders a day, curing anxiety for 3 million workers and generating over 2 million RMB monthly.

Netizens have remarked, ‘Watching the bananas turn from green to yellow mirrors my journey from a fresh college graduate to a seasoned worker.’ Others shared experiences of hydroponic bananas ripening too quickly, leading to binge eating and a new kind of anxiety.

The ‘banana green’ not only holds emotional significance but also has a social aspect, making it a hit among young people. The consumer market continues to reflect the evolving needs and lifestyles of labourers.


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