The Asian equivalent of saying, in jest, "it's a Black thing
, you can't understand." It's a way of avoiding a long-winded explanation
It comes from a TV commercial from 1972 for Calgon
In the '70s, Asians could not appear on American TV unless they were running laundries or delivering karate
chops. Luckily we can now appear on TV as gangsters, prostitutes, and math professor
s. But try and imagine a world where Americans only understood Asian Americans (called then "Oriental
s") as people who were very, very good at getting stains out of bell bottoms
The original Calgon commercial featured a Mr. Lee and Mrs. Lee who run a laundry
. A flummoxed
customer can't understand how Mr. Lee (who presumably mans the counter and flirts with female customers while his wife does all the hard work in back) can get shirts so clean. The dialog runs:
How do you get your shirts so clean, Mr. Lee?
Ancient Chinese Secret.
(cut to Mrs. Lee working her ass off in back)
My husband, some hot shot
. Here's his ancient Chinese secret. Calgon. Calgon's two water softeners soften wash waters so detergents clean better, In hardest water, Calgon helps detergents get laundry up to 30% cleaner.
(Mrs. Lee then appears from the back with an empty box Calgon)
Mrs. Lee: (yelling at husband and shaking the box in his face)
We need more Calgon!
(to Mr. Lee in an astonished voice)
Ancient Chinese Secret, Huh!
, on a SNL
appearance, did a parody of this commercial, with Maya Rudolph
playing Mrs. Lee.