Friday, November 30, 2018

193. Brand Names That Became Everyday Pinoy Words #6: VETSIN

VE-TSIN, as a brand name was first used by Tien Chu Ve-Tsin Mfg. Co. Ltd. in 1923

Monosodium glutamate was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese inventor, who isolated the natural flavor-enhancing substance found in seaweed.

MSG, as it is called, is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, also naturally occurring in molasses, cheese, mushrooms, grapes and other fruits. First commercially produced in 1908 by the Suzuki Pharmaceutical Co. in Japan as “Aji-No-Moto”, it was next introduced in Taiwan and China.

Tien Chu Ve-Tsin Mfg. Co. Ltd., based in Shanghai and Hong Kong, was a well-known manufacturer of honey by-products,  food chemicals and additives. It also became a pioneering maker of MSG in China in 1923.

MSG in Mandarin was called “wèijīng” ( 味精), transposed into the Romanized version as “ve-tsin”. Tien Chun’s vet-sin product became so popular that the product was sold abroad as Ve-tsin Gourmet Powder—with just a sprinkling enough to bring out the flavor of food. The product was even awarded a Gold Prize at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, U.S.A.

VE-TSIN Print Ad, Graphic Magazine, 1936

Chinese stores in Manila began carrying the Tien Chu Vet-Sin brand as early as the 1930s. One Chinese  store along Calle Poblete-- Ow Yong Pun Shek—carried the brand and advertised it on leading magazines of the day.  Filipinos took to using the flavor enhancer which became a kitchen staple in almost every home.


In the early 50s, other Vet-Sin brands became available, like “Markang Manok” (Hen Brand), a more affordable powder seasoning that came in bottles, bowls and trial size sachets. It was packaged and distributed by Agricom Devpt. Co. Inc.

VE-TSIN MARKANG MANOK (Hen Brand Food Seasoning), 1962

In 1958, Aji-No-Moto, the original MSG set up its operations in the Philippines and in  a few years, became a dominant MSG leader, practically wiping out competition and practically monopolizing the market.

Though Aji-No-Moto never used “ve-tsin” in its product descriptor (it used “food seasoning” and “glutamic acid” at the height of the MSG heath controversy), majority of Filipino consumers always refer to the popular Aji brand as “vetsin,  betsin or bitsin”—a legacy left by Tien-Chu Ve-Tsin Mfg. Co.--the first to use that term in their product brand name. 

, uploaded by kattebelleje.

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