Soaring priceshave prompted authorities to step in and curb the excesses of the mooncaketrade in recent years. Regulations now outlaw unnecessarily lavish packagingand the inclusion of expensive bonus gifts, such as high-priced alcohol, in theboxes.
"It waspartly because of corruption, but also it was just a waste of resources,"said an official at the Beijing Association of Roasted Foods and Sweets.
Some customershave also grown uneasy at the health implications of the treats, which clock inat around 800 calories a piece. A handful of firms claim to offer versions withlower fat and sugar, somewhat akin to the idea of a healthy Christmas pudding.
According to aChinese news site, one brand boasts that its milk and papaya-flavoured versionsconfer a range of aesthetic benefits, including a more youthful appearance andlarger breasts.
But there aresigns that even with such innovations, mooncakes may have become too popularfor their own good.
Aware thatclients may be inundated with boxes, many companies now send them couponsinstead. Recipients can order mooncakes – or something else entirely, such asFrench red wine, Chinese tea or Spanish olive oil, said Mr Li.
Tang saidyounger people rarely bothered exchanging mooncakes with friends these days.
"Now it'sjust a business thing. This year my boss gave me two or three boxes, but Ihaven't bought mooncakes for anyone," she said.
"Iactually don't really like them."