Seeking shelter from the sun at Alexandra Village, I almost came to a sticky end, backing into trolleys loaded with nian gao 年糕 – traditional glutinous rice cakes usually shared amongst families at Chinese New Year.
The names of both confectioneries suggest that they originated from the same stall. A trope in any narrative of Singapore food history is the splitting of ways after a quarrel amongst family members who used to work in the same shop, with both parties laying claim to the goodwill already associated with the name of the original stall.
In such event, who should be recognised as the “authentic” stall? The current owners of the original site of the first stall? The assistants to, then successors of, the original bakers to whom secret recipes might have been passed? What is the essence of the reputation of a food brand?