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‘China’s hottest woman’: The driving force behind crunchy chili sensation Lao Gan Ma

By Helen Sullivan

05 Nov 2022 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

The Guardian tells the story of a poor villager in China whose “kitschy communist” chili business has become so wildly successful, she’s estimated to have amassed a fortune of over $1 billion.

There is a saying about the south-western Chinese province of Guizhou: “Not three feet of flat land, not three days without rain, not a family with three silver coins.” But, with the help of a spicy condiment, Tao Huabi, also known as China’s “hottest woman”, has well and truly defied this rule.

Tao Huabi is the woman behind Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chilli Crisp, a hot, crunchy sauce of chopped chillies that are fried to a red so dark it is almost black. The name means “old godmother” and everyone who picks a jar up must face the stern look of a short-haired woman. Open it, and you find the formidable combination of the odd peanut, a few crunchy, salty soya beans, MSG, and oil so infused with the chilli that it seems to glow. It looks almost dangerous.

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