You can buy lots of sweets and candies in the shops these days. And there are huge shops selling nothing but candy too. But can you imagine that not that long ago, such a sight was not to be seen in Singapore?
Many of the sweets we take for granted now — like the different kinds of fruit gummies, multicoloured lollipops, the whole plethora of candy beans, popping candy, gobstoppers and chocolate candy — were either not available or really hard to find! Back in the 1960s and 70s, children had only a small variety of sweets to enjoy, most of them made in China. And if you were lucky or very good, you may have been treated to a special box of Dolly Mixtures or stretchy black Liquorice, imported all the way from Britain. (These seemed like they came straight out of an Enid Blyton storybook, which kids of the 70s devoured with a passion.)
These days, you can still find lots of the traditional Made-in-China candy in some supermarkets like Sheng Siong. They are not as popular now, but one still remains a favourite. That’s the White Rabbit candy!
Do you anything about it? It’s a big favourite during Chinese New Year, with its red, blue and black markings and trademark rabbit drawn on the wrapper. Kids loved to unwrap the sweet and bite off bits of the paper wrapping inside. It’s actually not paper, but a paper-thin layer made of glutinous rice flour. The sweet itself is a sweet, milky, chewy candy that everyone loves.
It was first made over 70 years ago at the ABC Candy Factory in Shanghai in 1943. Someone working there had tasted a milk candy from the United States and liked it. So he took the idea back to the factory, developed a recipe and in half a year, came up with the milk candies.
Note to the grown-ups : A few years ago, the White Rabbit Sweets were affected during the melamine milk food scare in China. Singapore pulled the sweets off the shelves when it was found to have traces of melamine. Since then, the sweets are made using milk from New Zealand, as White Rabbit has for quite some time been back on the supermarket shelves here.