The actual mooncakes
I found the following short history of mooncakes on this Governemnt of Hong Kong website: http://www.info.gov.hk/bspu/ehtml/win_entries/web_99/p201/tin/Mooncakes.htm.
From1280-1368, China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D.960-1280) were unhappy about foreign rule, and wanted to start a rebellion. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Mid-Autumn Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Inside each cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, mooncakes are eaten to commemorate this event.
Inside of a non-tradtional Mooncake
Traditionally, mooncakes are made by grinding the Lotus flower into a paste, planting a fermented egg yoke in the middle and encasing the whole thing in some sort of pastry. Today, many substitute ingredients are used, bring new flavours to this yearly treat. It is very common to see ice cream mooncakes, cookies and cream mooncakes etc... The flavour I just tried was not traditional at all, it was green bean paste with a "bird's nest" in the middle. I have no idea what a "bird's nest" is, only that the streets of Hong Kong are filled with Bird's Nest shops, and you are supposed to give them to a women who is pregnant. Anyways, it tasted pretty damn good.
Mooncake madness is in full swing in Hong Kong, Virtually every advertisement you see (which are A LOT here) is for one brand of mooncake or another. All the cake shops in the city have stocked their shelves with mooncakes, and temporary shops and stalls have sprung up all over the city to meet the high demand for these seasonal delicacies. I know I for one cannot wait until October 6, when I plan to take my mooncake and a colourful paper lantern to Victoria Park, Hong Kong and enjoy the full-blown Mid-Autumn festival experience.