Monday, July 27, 2015

SG50 Fishcake scam

Some time ago, my secondary school friend Randall (we call him Ghim, and you might have heard me mention him many times before in ancient blog posts), told us excitedly that he is creating a special SG50 fishcake. He is the Business Development Manager for BoBo.

To my surprise, the fishcake is now going viral!

Fishcake looks like this.

There are many articles written about the fishcake, and all are negative.

(Mothership 1)
(Mothership 2)

Here are some examples. There are actually more but lazy to link everything lah.

Basically, here are the things people felt unhappy about:

1) How can BoBo charge the same price for fishcake with the "50" cut out? This is cheating customers' money with a gimmick.

2) Where does the cut away "50" go to? Wasting food!

3) Stop it with the everything SG50! So irritating!

Since Randall is my friend, I had the privilege of asking him to address all these issues:

1) Price per gram

Mothership actually did a mathematical comparison of price per gram of fishcake.

The SG50 fishcake is selling at $1.50 for 195 grams, which is $0.77 per 100 grams.

The Xi dao fishcake is selling at $2.15 for 330grams, which is $0.65 per 100 grams.

Nonwithstanding the fact that people are trying to gei gao about spending $1.50, apparently this means you will be ripped off at a whooping $0.12 per 100 grams of fishcake you buy.

Which would be a scientifically accurate assessment of the situation... Except...


The SG50 fishcake is of a more premium grade, consisting of more expensive fish meat, so naturally the cost is higher. You wouldn't complain about how Kobe beef is more expensive than Australian beef would you? Not that $1.50 fishcake should be compared to Kobe beef lah but you get my drift.

"Duh..." you, being the skeptical Singaporean, say. "Where is the proof that the SG50 fishcake is of a more premium grade?? Sounds like something BoBo is just saying after this shitstorm hit them."

Well, there is no proof. The difference in taste isn't very discernible either to the average person.

However, there is a very valid reason WHY the SG50 fishcake has to use more expensive fish paste.

This is because for the mould to hold the shape of the 50 cut out, it needs to be firmer than the traditional fish paste.

Since the the SG50 fishcake is a UNIQUE CREATION, it is unfair to compare it to any existing BoBo products.

Unlike what people are choosing to believe, there never was a "pre SG50" fishcake selling for the same price!

FYI I photoshopped the 50 away. 

If you wish to do a price/gram comparison,  there is also another BoBo fishcake that is selling at $1.90 per 180 grams.

If you compare the SG50 fishcake to this one, made with premium grade yellowtail fish, then it would seem like the SG50 fishcake is more value for money, isn't it?

But these comparisons don't make sense, because they all aren't made from the same grade of fish paste!!

2) Why do this special fishcake?

During Chinese New Year, fishcake/fishball sellers get loads of sales because families come together for steamboat during their gatherings.

The same thing will likely happen during our Jubilee long weekend. Families will gather to watch the parade on TV together.

The SG50 fishcake seems like a fun, festive item to have during the celebrations, which is why it was created. Because it is fun!

If I were hosting a party, I would love to have the SG50 fishcake in my menu because it would be an interesting talking point for my guests.

3) Bobo is obviously trying to cheat money from the SG50 hype.

Gimmicks are everywhere. Every Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, simi sai day... you see products and services catering specially to those occasions by vendors who wish to get more sales. Even on regular days brands create special editions to their products to spice up their range and jack up prices. Hello Kitty edition? Sign me up.

The SG50 celebrations is no different. As the SG50 fever rises, SG50 products appear to facilitate people's enthusiasm.

Why is a regular scarf only $10 but a Liverpool scarf sold at the match $70? Obviously trying to cheat money right?

If you like Liverpool, the extra cost is nothing. Your scarf is a fun souvenir. If you don't like Liverpool, it is an outrageous scam.

An Apple watch with the same software and hardware, can range from $518 to $25,500. The difference is shocking.

It doesn't matter.


If you find $1.50 for 3 fishcakes ridiculous, then buy another version that isn't the SG50 special.

If you have a problem with companies trying to make more money where there is demand (aka capitalism), you can breed your own fish and make your own fishcakes.

As for money-cheating, look at the rest of BoBo's SG50 offers:

Both products are offering 50g more at no extra cost during the celebrations. And in case you are wondering, this offer is already available before the controversy.

Do nice things like this and nobody notices or cares...

Put what looks like a little less value-for-money (when it actually isn't!), and the whole nation gets enraged. -_-

4) Where did the cut out 50 go?

There is no cut out 50. The fish paste is squeezed into a mould, then fried.

So there is absolutely no food wastage in the creation of the SG50 fishcake.


I can't believe that a simple fishcake can create a national talking point. There is so much misunderstanding in this matter, and despite Randall's explanation to the press, nobody seems to be very interested.

The whole "companies all jumping into the ridiculous SG50 fever and using it to scam money" angle is way more interesting.

That's why I'm writing this to help him clarify. Just coincidentally, I'm also going to BoBo's factory next week to shoot an episode of Guide to Life! This was arranged before this hooha begin... but it is just as well because now I can ask Randall to show me the famous SG50 machine!