I bought some White Rabbit Candy and Haw Flakes to hand out for Halloween. “Kids are going to teepee our place if they get weird Chinese candy,” Joe scoffed. Joe got some Reese’s cups to be on the safe side. Marcella’s mom had a sensible suggestion. “Why don’t you put the candy in separate bowls, and let the kids pick?”
By handing out Chinese candy, I was going to make a statement and test a theory. (A) I wanted to be different, because typically most people hand out stuff like Snickers, Kit Kat, Reese’s, mainstream American candy. I’m Chinese, so I wanted to hand out something Chinese, but still ‘accessible’ and ‘user-friendly’. I decided against preseved olives or dried plums (chan pei mui) (B) We live in a very ethnically diverse community, with a lot of Chinese people. Chinese people would recognize Haw Flakes and White Rabbit candy. Some non-Chinese people might also recognize them. Let’s see how many. (C) For people who didn’t know what they were, they would now be introduced to it. Whether they trusted it enough to eat it (‘How do I know this stuff isn’t tainted?”), well, that was beyond my control.
In case you’re not familiar with Haw Flakes and White Rabbit Candy, they’re Chinese childhood classics. Haw Flakes are made of hawthorn berries and sugar. Conceptually, they’re like fruit-roll ups. In form, they are dry coins (biscuit-like texture), sweet and tangy (not as tart as Sweetarts). My Thai friend Cherry knew them as ‘penny candy’. They usually come in short cyclinders wrapped in yellow and red paper, whick look like firecrackers.
White Rabbit candy is a chewy milk caramel. The candy is encased in rice paper, which is edible and has no flavour. The rice paper is to ensure the candy doesn’t stick to the candy wrapper, which is blue/white/orange paper. (Don’t you hate it when you have to scrape off tiny bits of wrapper fluff from candy with your nails?)
So what happened on Halloween night? Roughly 20 kids came by. Few of them were Asian. Only two of them, fairy-angel-ballerinas replete with blond hair, didn’t know what the Chinese candy were, but took some anyway, open to experimentation. The rest of them, said things like “Cool, Rabbit Candy, I’ve had that before,” or “Oh, Haw Flakes! Firecracker candy.” Overall 2/3s took the Chinese candy, 1/3 the Reese’s. Joe’s happy though, more leftovers for him. He loves Reese’s. I’m fond of them too.