Did you know that the Orange Chicken turned 34 years old in 2021? This deep-fried, tangy, sweet and savory dish was created by the beloved Asian American franchise Panda Express. It was said that the Orange Chicken was inspired by another Americanized Chinese dish called General Tsao’s Chicken. For many Americans, the Panda Express spread was their first reference for Chinese food. And Orange Chicken is the most popular item on the menu! The fast-food chain sells an impressive 70 million pounds (31.75 million kg) of Orange Chicken every year!
Panda Express was founded in 1983, by father-son duo Chef Ming Tsai Cherng and Andrew Cherng, in Pasadena, California. Still a privately-held company today, Panda Express is America’s biggest Asian fast food chain with annual sales over $3 billion and employ close to 39,000 employees. Since 1999 the company has given away close to 50 Million dollars to charity. Including $150,000 recently to the AAPI Community Fund and $2 million dollars’ worth of medical supplies to patients and healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Panda Express New York – CC Credit: Shinya Suzuki, Flickr
Whether it’s Asian American food or British Asian cuisine, like the people and communities that created them, are just as American or British as they are Asian. These creations are remarkable perhaps not in their existence but in their ubiquity, we ALL eat them. Just like this slogan “Love our people like you love our food” enfolded during a Rise Up Against Asian Hate rally. We implore you to stand with the Asian community and stand up to hate and xenophobia against us.
In the past year, Asian-owned businesses have been hit doubly hard by the pandemic restrictions and rise in racist crimes across the globe. This May, celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by supporting one of your local Asian American establishments. Food alone cannot unite us, but perhaps it can be a good place to start.