• Amber Gibson

“Over The Moon” About Lady M Special Edition Mooncakes And Asian Representation

Celebrate the approaching Mid-Autumn Festival with a new sweet treat and a new film by Netflix/Pearl Studio, weaving Chinese culture and familial comfort.

Photos by Carissa Casares

Summer’s inevitable departure is no time for mourning–it is a time for celebration! And every celebration needs its desserts. If your Asian auntie keeps sending you posts from Subtle Asian Traits or you follow foodie instagrams, you’re probably familiar with Lady M Confections and their famous mille crepe cakes. This Autumn, you'll want to try their collectible limited-edition mooncake lantern available for pre-order this week and in limited quantities in Lady M boutiques beginning September 8. Lady M makes a small selection of mooncakes each year, mostly for their Asian boutiques, but this year's special collaboration is a partnership with Netflix and Pearl Studio’s new animated musical Over The Moon.

The film, dropping this Fall, tells the story of an intrepid young girl who builds a rocket ship to the moon to prove the existence of a legendary Moon Goddess. The musical blends modern day with Chinese folklore and realistic imagery with fantastical world-building, as our young heroine navigates grief and loss. Slated as Netflix's next big Animated movie by Insider, the film also hosts an ~actually~ Asian cast. (Gasp!) This includes the beloved Sandra Oh.

Taking inspiration from Over The Moon, the Lady M mooncakes are packaged in gold and jade lantern featuring intricate, laser-cut imagery of characters and scenes from the film, showcased with an interactive illumination effect. Inside each lantern are six individually-wrapped Lady M mooncakes custom designed with Kee Wah Bakery and available in two flavors: sweet egg custard stamped with the classic Lady M logo and chocolate custard stamped with an image of the mythical moon rabbit.

Mooncakes and lighting lanterns are two classic traditions from the Mid-Autumn Festival, the second most important holiday in China after the Lunar New Year. The festival celebrates the moon at its fullest time of the year (October 1st for 2020). It’s a time for family reunions and spiritual connections. The festival began thousands of years ago as a post-harvest celebration and grew around a folklore of an intelligent goddess, Chang’e, and her husband Hou Yi. This tale, which the movie draws from, is most commonly told as Chang’e coming into possession of an elixir of immortality. But, while Hou Yi is away, her husband’s apprentice breaks into their home and threatens Chang’e for the potion. Instead, she drinks it herself, flying off into the sky and living on the moon to always be close to her beloved. When Hou Yi finds out, he sets out fruits and cakes to offer his wife in honor of her sacrifice, prompting the village to do the same.

Mooncakes are dense pastries typically filled with a lotus seed paste. The sweet treat shaped like the moon and traditionally filled with lotus seed paste, red bean paste and maybe salted egg yolks have a long history in China. In the 14th century, they were rumored as communication devices holding secret messages for rebel forces inside them. In Hong Kong last year, the dessert retained its political connotations as protestors stamped mooncakes with protest slogans condemning the government. Mooncakes are my personal favorite part of the festival, though the salted egg yolk variety are unfortunately not allowed to be brought back to the United States– which I found out when I devastatingly had a couple boxes confiscated at customs.

If you like Lady M's mooncakes, you can try more traditional varieties next time you travel abroad. But with travel still far off for many of us, enjoying these mooncakes with a new musical movie is a great way to travel from home and learn more about Chinese culture.

Meet the Family

Amber Gibson is a Chicago-based journalist specializing in food, travel, wine and wellness. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Saveur, Departures, Architectural Digest, USA Today, NBC and Hemispheres. Gelato, dark chocolate and champagne are her biggest weaknesses. Follow her adventures @amberyv on Instagram.