Yesterday I went to Lee’s Sandwiches, a bánh mì chain started by the Le family (one “e”) in San Jose that has spread to Vietnamese communities all over the country. The company is trying hard to become the McDonald’s of bánh mì and cà phê sữa đá and to break into the mainstream fast food market.
As it expands, Lee’s has put its name and logo on just about every food-related product you can think of: tumblers, drip coffee filters, and its own brand of packaged, freezer-friendly Vietnamese foods. Still, I was quite shocked to see Lee’s Sandwiches-branded lunar new year red envelopes (紅包 in Mandarin, 利是 in Cantonese, lì xì in Vietnamese) when I went to pick up some coffee there yesterday.
It was very early in the morning and the shop was nearly empty so I didn’t want to make a scene by snapping photos (though with the food blogging phenomenon in the San Gabriel Valley they might even expect it). Thankfully, the adorably retro Lee’s Sandwiches website lets you send similar designs as e-cards.
The image above is a fairly standard red envelope image. There are some, though, that are more obviously branded: