You might have heard recently about the Bob Dylan potato chips being sold in China called A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. But like many things you hear on the Internet, the story was lost somewhat in translation and is only half-true. It’s true that a Chinese company is selling Bob Dylan lyrics inside what appear to be potato chip bags. However, aside from the powerful lyrics found in the “Bob Dylan Poetry Collection (1961–2012),” the bags are empty, without so much as a drop of grease inside to sully the recent Nobel Prize-winner’s popular poetry. It seems like a bizarre product, to say the least — why not just sell the book itself?
But the lyrics inside potato chip bags celebrate the new (and highly anticipated) translation of Bob Dylan’s lyrics into Chinese. Bob Dylan has enjoyed a sizable fan base in China, much to the surprise of the Western world. The purpose seems to be to put poetic lyrics into everyday objects, with a nod toward Dylan’s embrace of the popular (in the sense of “of the people”) traditions in folk music; the company hopes to symbolically emphasize the lyrics’ accessibility by allowing people to enjoy them even more than one might enjoy getting a bag of potato chips from a vending machine.
“What is the most popular thing? We chose the ‘potato chips,’” the website reads through a translation. “You like in the supermarket in the roar [sic] to buy a bag of potato chips, like, torn, bite open, shoot open, cut it. Hope it can go from the bookstore to the streets, appear in the subway, convenience stores, vending machines — extended into people's lives.”