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Why Isn't There a Dumpling Emoji?

A campaign has been launched to convince Unicode to add one.

Yiying Lu

People were awfully excited when the long-awaited taco emoji finally made its debut — but however extensive the current emoji lineup is, there are still some notable exclusions. Where is the shark? Why isn't there a bald eagle for those extra-patriotic "Happy Fourth of July" texts? And, on a more food-related note, where's the cucumber or stack of pancakes? Another glaring omission from the emoji lineup: the dumpling. Thankfully, an internet campaign has been launched to rectify that last one.

Leading the quest for the dumpling emoji is former New York Times journalist and cookbook author Jennifer 8. Lee. She's launched a website called the Dumpling Emoji Project to encourage others to join her in the fight. As the campaign website points out, "Dumplings are one of the most universal cross-cultural foods in the world" — pierogi, gyoza, ravioli, empanadas, potstickers, et al — and "Yet, there is no dumpling emoji."

But besides wanting to be able to easily text friends for a dumpling date, the dumpling emoji campaign also has a larger mission: To put the selection of new emojis where they believe it belongs — in the hands of the people that actually use them. The group responsible for standardizing emojis is a nonprofit group with the mysterious-sounding name of the Unicode Consortium, a board made up of 18 members that includes corporate giants like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo. "The decision makers are overwhelmingly male, overwhelming white and overwhelmingly engineers," the campaign website points out.  "This is not the best process to decide a visual language that is now used globally."

The site names Eddie Huang, chef and inspiration for the ABC TV series Fresh Off the Boat, as a supporter. Says Huang: "Whether it's dumplings or tacos or pizza emojis, the Unicode Consortium is regulating language ... I believe that not only should there be a dumpling emoji, there should be a bao emoji too."

To accomplish its goal of a dumpling emoji for everyone, the Dumpling Emoji Project is seeking to raise funds with to become a voting member of the UNICODE Consortium, a privilege that costs $7,500 a year. Look for a Kickstarter to launch soon; for those who support the cause but don't want to throw money at it, there's also a petition to sign.