Rice candy stories

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This vendor cooks up blocks of rice candy in his home nearby, packs them into his carry-basket, and brings them down to this mini-park near a busy bus stop to patiently perform the work of breaking the larger blocks of candy into bite-size pieces and placing them into small plastic bags. The tool he uses to break apart the candy – picture a metal shoehorn that has been bent in the middle – also serves as “acoustic advertising”: the sound of his hammer upon the metal implement notifies passersby of his presence.

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Each bag of candy is one kuai, around US $0.16. He is 75 years old this year, and has been making rice-candy for the past 25 years. He offers up a piece for me to taste. “Just roll it around in your mouth, though, don’t try to chew it or you’ll end up like me!” he warns, revealing a gap-filled smile.

For the epicurious, imagine a “White Rabbit” – only with sesame seeds. The humble White Rabbit Milk Candy, by the way, has (I think) a fascinating history and could represent one aspect of China’s modernization; from its humble “shanzhai” beginnings as “ABC Mickey Mouse Sweets”, to their shining moment as a gift to visiting Tricky Dick, rising to become (arguably) the most popular candy in the world, to accusations of melamine contamination and the subsequent shift to using milk from New Zealand for production. The rabbit tale continues.

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