|— The cabbage merchant on a number of occasions.|
The cabbage merchant was an Earth Kingdom businessman and founder of Cabbage Corp. Originally an ordinary salesman who specialized in selling cabbages, he was constantly plagued by misfortune during his business endeavors, as his cabbages were continually destroyed or damaged after encountering Team Avatar and their enemies. Inspired by an incident at the Earthen Fire Refinery, the cabbage merchant eventually founded Cabbage Corp, a company that produces automobiles and other technologies, sometime before 120 AG.
Traveling the Earth Kingdom
The cabbage merchant traveled to various locations in the Earth Kingdom in his profession, selling cabbages from a cart that was repeatedly destroyed, to which he would exclaim, "My cabbages!" As he traveled widely, the merchant was able to collect various recipes related to cabbages.
When the cabbage merchant was trying to enter Omashu, his cart was destroyed by a troop of overzealous earthbending guards. He later obtained a new cart filled with more cabbages, only to have it be destroyed again by the Avatar and his companions when they were riding on the Omashu delivery system. Following this, he demanded they be beheaded, "One for each head of cabbage!" during their subsequent trial, but King Bumi threw them a feast instead, to the merchant's shock and annoyance. His cart was destroyed for a third and final time in Omashu by King Bumi and Aang while they rode the mail system again.
At the seedy merchants pier, his cart was destroyed by Aang when he airbent the cart while being chased by pirates, causing him to yell that the pier was worse than Omashu and walk away dejectedly. The cabbage merchant was among other refugees waiting at Full Moon Bay for a ferry to Ba Sing Se; while waiting, the ferry's passport attendant told him he could not bring his cabbages due to the risk of a cabbage slug infestation. The cabbage merchant was distraught at this, thinking there could not possibly be cabbage slugs on his cabbages. However, the attendant ordered his cart to be destroyed by a security platypus bear over the screams of the merchant. Nevertheless, her suspicions were proven correct when a cabbage slug was found among the cabbages. The cabbage merchant was severely traumatized by this experience and had to be carried away by the security officers.
In Ba Sing Se, an escaped rabaroo ate his cabbages, to which he responded by exasperatedly saying, "My cabb- Oh forget it," and walked off to sob over his predicament. Eventually, the cabbage merchant met Pu-on Tim, an acclaimed Earth Kingdom playwright, during his travels. As Pu-on Tim was writing a play about Avatar Aang at that time, he provided the playwright with information about Team Avatar by recounting their many encounters. Because of the merchant's considerable knowledge on the topic, Pu-on Tim later mentioned him as "a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage" as one of the sources of information for his play.
After the Hundred Year War, the cabbage merchant began a small restaurant called "Cabbage Delicacies Bistro" near Cranefish Town, believing a restaurant would be a safer place to keep his beloved cabbages than a cart. When Avatar Aang visited his establishment in 102 AG, he immediately recognized him and assumed a protective stance over his cabbages, stating that bad things always happen to his cabbages when the Avatar was around. Regardless, due to his business being slow, he allowed Aang and the Air Acolytes to stay at his restaurant and even eat their own food, though only under the condition that they at least ordered one dish; he subsequently prepared his signature dish for them, namely cabbage cookies. When Aang entered into the Spirit World, he became fearful once more for the safety of his cabbages and moments later, an earthquake tipped over his cabbages.
As General Old Iron prepared to attack the village around the Earthen Fire Refinery, the villagers needed to evacuate, the cabbage merchant being one of them. Forced by Katara to leave his restaurant, he tearfully lamented the loss of his cabbages once more. When the waterbender attempted to comfort him by saying that they would get him new cabbages, the cabbage merchant claimed that it would not "be the same". While sobbing, however, he suddenly noticed Satoru driving his forklift and, with an inspired look in his eyes, exclaimed what a "remarkable" machine it was. After the conclusion of the battle between Avatar Aang and the ancient spirit, the cabbage merchant approached Satoru and asked if he was the one who built the forklift.
This encounter would eventually make the cabbage merchant bid his produce-selling days goodbye and set up a company, Cabbage Corp, orientated to the manufacturing of automobiles and other technologies. Under his leadership, Cabbage Corp became one of the largest companies in the world. His son, Lau Gan-Lan, later took over its ownership.
Outside Cabbage Corp's headquarters, a metal statue of the cabbage merchant was erected in order to commemorate his first stand in Cranefish Town, by then renamed to Republic City. Perched atop a high pillar, he is depicted standing, while raising a cabbage in the palm of his hand, next to his cart full of cabbages.
In his days as traveling salesman and restaurant owner, the cabbage merchant was generally unsuccessful at doing business, partially due to bad luck and partially due to his obsession with cabbages. However, he was a talented chef and proved very adept at leading a major manufacturing company.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Book One: Water (水)
Book Two: Earth (土)
- The cabbage merchant was meant to be a one-time character, intended to appear in only one episode.
- Despite his cart being destroyed and supposedly not allowed in either Omashu or Ba Sing Se, he was seen with them in each city.
- The cabbage merchant has also been referred to as "our lovable loser, the cabbage merchant".
- An e-card from early in the show's production states that the cabbage merchant was only selling cabbage temporarily and that "the real [action was] in cantaloupes".
- The cabbage merchant can be seen in the PlayStation 2 and GameCube version of the Avatar: The Last Airbender video game.
- The cabbage merchant was voiced by James Sie, who later provided the voice of Cabbage Corp owner and son of the cabbage merchant, Lau Gan-Lan, in The Legend of Korra.
- He was seen in the Avatar Extras promo before the episodes with the extras were released.
- The cabbage merchant is the only known character who was not part of Team Avatar to be honored with a statue in Republic City.
- The cabbage merchant was inspired by a character from The Electric Company who would stack cans only to have them knocked over. The idea for the cabbage merchant to be recurring came from three characters in Cowboy Bebop, Antonio, Carlos, and Jobim, who would randomly run into the main characters.