BAD MOON RISING: China's Communist Party, in an effort to combat bribery, has singled out the mooncake. It has banned the use of public money to buy the traditional pastries and associated gifts, dampening demand just as the market hits its usual peak ahead of the mid-autumn festival.
BETWEEN THE MOON AND BEIJING CITY: The hockey-puck-sized pastries exchanged typically contained lotus seed, red bean paste and salted egg yolk. Some luxurious mooncakes now have rare ingredients such as abalone, shark fins or bird's nest. They sometimes carry gold coins, high-end wines, mobile phones and diamond rings.
THE DARK SIDE: Typically sold in boxes of four, the mooncakes retail for $20 to $50. But they've become increasingly lavish to appeal to the growing middle class in China, where there is a strong culture of gift-giving aimed at showing off status and building up goodwill.