XI'AN, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- In a factory workshop, cold noodles and seasonings are packed into bags on an assembly line in preparation to be delivered to dinner tables across the country, and even the world.
The cold noodles, called "ganmianpi" in Chinese, are a specialty in the city of Baoji, northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
Xu Lu, office director of Baoji Shangrun food company, said the company receives more than 500 orders every day through e-commerce platforms, with seven bags of noodles per order sold on average.
With a trademark registered, an industrial park established, and a special cold noodle industrial school set up, Baoji has turned the once-handmade snack into an industry with an annual output exceeding 5 billion yuan (about 782 million U.S. dollars).
Ganmianpi dates back to as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Wang Tongjiang, a chef serving the emperor, returned to his hometown of Qishan County in Baoji after retirement and spread the skills of making ganmianpi to his fellow villagers. Now, the snack has become a local symbol.
Making such noodles is not easy. About one hour after flour and water are mixed into a dough, the dough is repeatedly washed with water and then left for eight hours. Following a series of steps including fermentation, rolling, steaming and cooling, each piece of dough is then sliced into pliable but chewy noodles. Chili oil, gluten and vinegar are commonly used to season the noodles.
With his skillful noodle-making technique, Zhang Xinhuai started his ganmianpi business in the 1990s.
"All I had were a few tables and stools placed at a roadside stall," recalled Zhang, now the head of the ganmianpi industrial development and promotion association of the city.
Zhang said numerous small cold noodle businesses like his own became a vital part of local people's lives.
In 2014, the cold noodles hit online shopping platforms, attracting orders from across the country.
In Baoji Panlong New Area, three companies have become the first enterprises that begin operations at the Baoji ganmianpi industrial park. The park is aimed at becoming an industrial cluster that combines cold noodle processing, e-commerce, logistics, technology development and tourism, said Li Peng, manager of the project.
Last year, the output of the Baoji ganmianpi industry reached 5 billion yuan, providing nearly 50,000 jobs in various sectors. The cold noodle products have been exported to more than 20 countries and regions, such as the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia.
A cold noodle industrial school was also set up in May at the Shaanxi Institute of Mechatronic Technology.
Yi Xunzhi, Party chief of the institute, said in combination with the mechanical, electronic, automatic control, automation, industrial robotics and other professional advantages of the institute, the new school will help with the integrated development of enterprises, universities and research in the cold noodle sector.
According to Zhang Xinhuai, the city has registered a trademark of Baoji ganmianpi, aiming to open 10,000 chain restaurant outlets in 1,000 cities. The city is applying to register the snack as a protected geographical indication product.
"We have planned to expand the industrial chain by building plantation bases of the raw materials, such as wheat and chili, and create a highland for healthy food," he said.