If there’s anything that might surprise westerners about China, it’s the country’s lack of respect for intellectual property. Yes, the country’s night markets are not only known for their knock-off products of major western corporations, but those fake items are extremely popular. Not only that, but many of them are hilarious. They may not be nearly as good as the real thing, but they’re big sellers in the country nonetheless. Because of that, we’ll be giving you a list of 15 of the most hilarious knock-offs you’ll find in China – known more specifically as “shanzhai” products.
From designer clothes to video game consoles to fast food restaurants to even shaving products, there are many examples of the knock-off products being hilarious, ridiculous and downright weird, and you’ll probably stumble upon more than a few of these if you happen to visit China at some point in your life. However, don’t be so tempted to buy any of them just because you happen to be there and you think it would be a funny souvenir to show your friends once you get back. Fake products are still fake products – and their quality most likely won’t be anywhere close to the original. While they might be pretty hilarious, they still pose a big problem for copyright infringement and intellectual property laws, even if the people in China making these knock-offs couldn’t care less about it.
Even if people in China (and for that matter, other countries like Thailand and South Korea) are just modifying major company names and throwing them onto goods that are clearly substandard imitations of their originals, there’s one thing we can all probably agree on: they’re still pretty funny. With that, here are 15 of the most hilarious Chinese knock-off or “shanzhai” products.
15 Arm & Hatchet
Perhaps as a form of proof that just about anything can be pirated into fake goods in China, this particular Arm & Hammer knockoff is referred to as “Arm & Hatchet”. Despite the new name and logo replacing the hammer with something much more dangerous like a hatchet, it’s almost like they don’t even try in terms of making the knockoff product at least somewhat more original. In particular, they re-use the original product’s slogan (“The Standard of Purity”) and it seems to be just as easily available at grocery stores in China as the original is in the States – showing that even baking soda can be re-formatted into a cheap Chinese knock-off.
14 Cavern Kernel
If nothing else, this knock-off of Calvin Klein is hilarious because of how little it sounds like a rip-off of a well-known fashion brand; in fact, it sounds a lot more like some popcorn company owned by people who live or make it in a cave somehow. Whatever the case, Calvin Klein knock-offs tend to be a bit of a popular trend in China, with other rip-off companies like Caiwen Kelai, Calvim Klain and Carlin Klair also known to be actively selling knock-offs of popular CK products. This one, however, is the most hilarious one mainly because the name itself doesn’t make you think of fashion even in the slightest.
Not only does it look like a silly name for a shaving company, it’s a stupid name for a company in general, until you realize that it’s a name for a knock-off of Gillette. Yes, you can find Gilnghey razors in China, and the packaging they come in looks like some poor shaving product that you’d find at any dollar store in the world. But more than anything, it looks like somebody only used the G from the original company name and found some random letters and threw them around in a way that sort of makes sense – but only sort of.
12 Johns Daphne
If anything, this sounds more like a clothing company for teenagers than any sort of alcohol brand – let alone the most famous brand of whiskey in the world. Johns Daphne – aka the Chinese knock-off of Jack Daniel’s – is a prime candidate for a copyright infringement suit because of the identical font used, but it’s also hilarious based on the fact that the name Daphne is used in the context of whiskey. The other most hilarious part about this? The fact that, instead of the “Tennessee” on the original company’s label, Johns Daphne instead preaches his drinkers to try a little “tenderness”.
11 Kim Hortons
Asia seems to have a bit of a love affair with Tim Hortons knockoffs – in South Korea, there is a cafe called “Tim Mortons”, which the beloved Canadian company has already said it’s not too happy about. However, a knock-off of Timmies called “Kim Hortons” was also spotted by BuzzFeed in Shanghai, which isn’t even marginally more original than just giving your company a whole new name and avoiding the risk of copyright infringement lawsuits. Whether or not this shows China having a bit of country envy for Canada is unknown, but whether their variants of Timbits or Boston creme donuts are nearly as good is highly unlikely.
Without even getting into the subject of racial stereotypes (although we will say that this would cause endless amounts of controversy if someone ever tried opening one of these in the U.S.), the use of President Barack Obama’s face on a Chinese knock-off of KFC is just plain bizarre. Although the president is obviously a very recognizable face outsiders draw to the United States, the image of Obama’s head drawn over that of Colonel Sanders is highly unnecessary – even if the Chinese think it would be a good way to sell their fried chicken, which is probably not as good as the already questionable original.
It’s as if this knock-off of Olay is flat out admitting that it’s a substandard product compared to the original. Literally just replacing the “l” in the original company name with a “k” to make a more common English word, it doesn’t particularly give people the idea that this shampoo or lotion will be a very good one – then again, this is China we’re talking about. Although it may or may not make your hair free of dandruff or your skin feel smoother, there’s probably a good reason why it only exists in China under this name, because it probably is exactly what its name suggests – just “okay”.
8 oMC McDnoald's
Beyond the fact that there’s an extra golden arch in this logo, the fact that McDnoald's flips around two letters in a way that makes it just about unpronounceable is just weird, even for a Chinese rip-off. Just one example of China ripping off major American corporations like Starbucks or Pizza Hut (which we’ll expand on later), the rearranging of letters makes it seem like a pretty pathetic attempt at avoiding a lawsuit from the original company – especially since there are plenty of McDonald's that already exist within China. In other words, an example of a knock-off company that somehow exists even if it doesn’t need to.
7 Pizza Huh
We’re assuming that the second half of this name is what comes out of the customer’s mouth once they realize that the pizza sold here isn’t quite the same as the original company’s – more likely, it’s what they say when they discover that it’s actually worse. But alas, this rip-off of Pizza Hut known as “Pizza Huh” exists even if the parent company already has a presence in the country – much like “oMC McDnoalds” mentioned earlier, both of which are part of a shopping complex full of fake companies in Nanjing, China. In a way, it’s as if the people responsible for naming it did so while having a hearty laugh and with the intention of getting a chuckle out of Western tourists.
This one is just a doozy of a rip-off right here. Not only does the actual console look like a PlayStation One, but the box it comes in looks exactly like that of the Nintendo 64, and the game cartridge resembles that of an old school Super Nintendo. With all of that mind, the “Poly” in the name is somewhat justified. But if you were to bring this back to your country after visiting China, your friends might look just the smallest bit confused while they’re watching you play it – even though we’re not sure what games you actually could play on it.
5 Space Boys 3
As if China absolutely needed to have a counterfeit of pretty much every product imaginable, their disrespect for intellectual property extends all the way to Disney. One of the biggest examples is definitely in their selling of Toy Story 3 action figures, which they instead call “Space Boys 3” while keeping all the original characters like Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear intact in their original form on the box the toys come in. Although we suppose it makes sense in the context of Toy Story – albeit with only one character – it still seems silly that they even need to cheaply rip it off.
4 Multiple Variations of Adidas
Instead of picking just one here, we’ve decided to lump all the different knock-offs of Adidas into one entry. Why? Because let’s be honest, it’s quite possibly the most popular product to rip off in China. The number of counterfeit Adidas product names is staggering: Avivas, Adadis, Daiads, Adidos, Abcids, Abidas, Odidoss – the list goes on and on of all the renamed rip-offs of one of the most famous clothing brands in the world, with all of those many rip-offs most likely not even close to the original’s quality. Honourable mention goes to Nike, who have ripoffs called Nake, Nire, Kine, Nkie, and Hike.
A runner-up for this spot is “Punk”, with the original puma sporting a mohawk that has also been sold as a knock-off product. That said, this one probably takes the cake – if only because of how ridiculous the idea of a sportswear company being named after seafood is even in principle. Beyond the fact that it’s hilariously cartoonish in the context of a Puma knock-off, there’s also a question mark in place of a copyright symbol, showing just how little the creators seem to care about infringement or intellectual property. All in all, a textbook case of how blatant rip-offs of major companies can be in China.
2 Unbelieveable! This is Not Butter
Aside from the fact that this product misspells “unbelievable”, it’s one of the more hilarious knock-offs on the list because of how much more awkward it sounds compared to the original “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” Yes, even famous margarine companies can get knocked off in countries like China, and this is not the first time this company has been knocked off in other countries – other examples of this knockoff are “Could it be butter?” and “Butter it’s not!” Consumers in Asia might not believe their eyes when they try this not only because it’s not butter, but also because it’s most likely a very substandard product.
Not only is it an inferior knock-off of the original Nintendo Wii, it’s also hilarious because it makes you think of things that definitely don’t involve playing video games. In other words, let’s just say that if you tell people anything relating to a WiWi, video games will probably be the last thing on their mind, and awkward looks will definitely ensue. Regardless, this knock-off has a pretty hilarious if crude name on it. But sadly, it’s only a 20-bit gaming system that won’t let you actually play real Wii games on it – making it not only substandard, but essentially useless.