White Rabbit candy – 大白兔奶糖

Extremely traditional and very popular in China, 'Big white rabbit milk candy' proves that in China, everything has a story.

This taffy is shaped into small cylinders, and have a savory milk flavor (duh), but maybe its most famous feature is being wrapped in a thin, edible paper made of sticky rice, meant to be eaten along with the rest of the candy, (the translucent, not the printed, waxy one, as seen above).

This candy was ‘created’ by the Aipixi Candy Factory in Shanghai in 1943 when one of their merchants tried a milk candy from England and took the idea to China. The first Aipixi milk candies were packaged using a red Mickey Mouse drawing and branded as ABC Mickey Mouse Sweets.

Fortunately for everybody, during the 1950s, Mickey Mouse was replaced by a white rabbit, in a bid to build up identity as a national brand, since the Disney rodent was seen as a foreign symbol, but most probably because they started receiving cease-and-desist letters from Disney lawyers…

White Rabbit envelope
There’s something odd about those blue rabbits on the sides…

The wrapping was redesigned to feature a naturalistic white rabbit, with Chinese and English hand-lettering, in a red, blue and black against a white background color scheme, resulting in the distinctive design that hasn’t changed since.

During the hard times of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, these candies were promoted as a nutritional product through the slogan “Seven White Rabbit candies are equivalent to one cup of milk“, and it was usual to dissolve them in hot water to get an inexpensive glass of sugary milk.

White Rabbit creamy candy

As this brand accompanied the growth of many generations,  it has become a national brand, with cultural significance in China, like Toyota in Japan, or the chocolate shake Cacaolat in Catalonia.

and it started when these candies were incorporated as gifts during the 10th National Day of the People’s Republic of China. In 1972, during the visit of Richard Nixon, Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai gave him a bag of this candy as a gift, and nowadays, among the vast array of snacks that any self-respecting Chinese family offers when visiting relatives and friends during the Lunar New Year, one of them is invariably a bag of these.

White Rabbit candy

During recent times, the company faced major issues with the formaldehyde and melamine poisoning of 2008, having to recall overseas exports and face serious commercial trouble, but resuming in 2009 under a new commercial brand for just exporting, Golden Rabbit Candy, made from Australian milk instead of Chinese, and leaving White Rabbit solely for internal consumption. And now even the Chinese production of White Rabbit is made from New Zealand milk too. Better safe than sorry…

They can be bought online here, at your local Chinatown, or just ask a friend to do the right thing and bring some when going to China!

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