Durian, more commonly known as the King of Fruits, is now the king of flavoring at fast food chains in China, with restaurants incorporating its distinct taste into ice creams, egg tarts, dips, and pizzas.
The Southeast Asian fruit has seen a recent spike of interest from Chinese consumers, and companies such as Pizza Hut, KFC, and McDonald’s have created products with it to meet demand.
Durian is traditionally found in both sweet and savory dishes throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, but in China, it’s used in more unconventional ways.
Pizza Hut, for example, has a Durian Series with three kinds of durian pizzas. There’s the basic durian and cheese, or the Hawaiian mash up with pineapple included. Both use a cheaper Thai variety called Monthong, or Golden Pillow, but for the truly decadent, there’s the Musang King pizza featuring the highly sought after variety from Malaysia. Prices run between ¥59 to ¥126 for a nine inch pie.
At KFC, they’re selling Musang King ice cream for ¥13, but the fried chicken chain has previously used the fruit in egg tarts and as a dipping sauce for French fries.
Also selling a durian ice cream is McDonald’s, who have introduced the D24 McFlurry, another prized Malaysian variety. The flavor, however, is currently only available in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore.
It’s a massive market that the Golden Arches could be missing out on. After all, Chinese shoppers bought 80,000 Thai durians in one minute during an online sale in April, while Malaysia is poised to export its lucrative Musang King durian to China next year.