No Snow, But Some White Rabbits.

Dear Reader,

It has been a month. I have not forgotten you. I have, in the interim, accepted a new job, subbed five Chinese classes every day for three weeks, and driven all over the place to get from one gig to the other. Now that the dust of November has settled, let’s get back to the pressing matter of Chinese candy.

White Rabbit

A package of White Rabbit milk candies.

Eventually, I would love to feature “real food” at Chinese Checkout, but White Rabbit milk candy takes precedence. Like haw flakes, White Rabbits are the stuff of childhood. There are lots of milk candies in Asian supermarkets, but when it comes to White Rabbits, accept no substitutions. Since 1959, The Shanghai confectioner Guanshengyuan had been rolling out these creamy, chewy, Tootsie Rolly (/toffee-like) candies. According to an anonymous source quoted all over the Chinese Internet, the trademark leaping rabbit “symbolically jumps deep into the heart of the people.”1 Of course, there’s an uncuddly part of this story, too. Remember all that melamine found in Chinese dairy products a few years back? Yeah, White Rabbits were tainted, too. Not anymore, though! And I’m happy to report that I have eaten lots of these over the years, and have had no side effects as of yet.

White Rabbit, Unwrapped

White Rabbit, unwrapped.

Like some other Asian candies,  White Rabbits are wrapped in rice paper to keep them from sticking to the outer wrapper. Don’t try to peel it off. The rice paper will melt on your tongue. If you’re still unsure what to do with these, or even where to get them, look in your front yard for a giant talking rabbit with a five o’ clock shadow. He’ll show you how it’s done.

1. Just Google this phrase: 商標是一隻跳躍狀的白兔,形象深入民心.

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Haw Haw Haw

 

Buying hawthorn skewers in Hohhot, China.

Buying hawthorn skewers in Hohhot, China.

 

Haw candies are the food of nostalgia. The Chinese hawthorn, a tree fruit which ripens in late autumn, gets pounded, frozen, and stretched into dozens of different confections. People wax longingly about the paper rolls of haw flakes their parents gave them as kids, or the hawthorn skewers coated in caramelized sugar sold on wintry Beijing and Shanghai streets. I, too, miss those skewers, and I was way over five when I had my first.

There’s plenty of good haw candies stateside. I picked up a variety the other week, and only now have the time to introduce them to you. (Not that I didn’t dig in before.) All of the candies have a melt-in-your-mouth texture, and don’t cling to teeth the way gummies or Fruit Roll-Ups do.

 

Haw flakes, unwrapped.

Haw flakes, unwrapped.

 

 

Haw flakes, wrapped.

Haw flakes, wrapped.

 

Haw flakes are thin discs of hawthorn and sugar. They often come in colorful paper rolls, but I couldn’t find those last week. These are also a bit bigger than they usually come. You could easily eat an entire package by yourself, so beware.

 

Haw roll, unwrapped.

Haw roll, unwrapped.

 

The haw rolls are my personal favorite. They are thicker than the flakes, and have a round, warm mouth feel. They’re almost like Fruit Leather, but less chewy. These are bite-sized, unlike a long ones I usually find. I prefer them bigger, so I can savor them for longer. I’ve unrolled them before, but you can just bite right into it as-is.

 

Hawburger, wrapped.

Hawburger, wrapped.

 

This was my first encounter with “hawburgers”. Don’t let the name scare you. They are triple-decker sandwiches of flake and roll. They have a deliciously thick bite. I ate two just writing this post. In fact, you should really watch out with all of these candies, because the touch of tart and sweet make it hard have just one.