With modern convenience stores popping up left, right, and centre around Hong Kong, many “si doh” (traditional tuck shops) have no choice but to shut down, taking with them a myriad of local sweets and snacks that all Hongkongers once loved in their childhood. Luckily, you can still get most of these treats in supermarkets or even online shops, so here are some of the most popular ones that you might want to add to your shopping list. Get ready to walk down memory lane…
Making it to the top of our list are of course, White Rabbits. Wrapped in a classic white, blue, and red wax paper, these chewy milky sweets will stick to your teeth so hard that you might end up pulling your fillings out – but it’s well worth the risk. For those trying them for the first time, don’t worry about the thin film of rice paper wrapped around the sweet, because it’s edible and actually there to prevent the candy from melting into the wrapper. Genius!
Ding Ding Candy (or Deuk Deuk Tong)
Made from melted malt sugar, Ding Ding Candy is a classic sugary treat that definitely hits home. After the melted sugar has cooled down, the mixture is then stretched repeatedly into a long, thin shape, before it solidifies into a white, biscuit-like texture. The candy then gets broken into pieces with a small chisel and hammer for easier packaging, making a crisp “Ding! Ding!” sound with every hit – which explains the name. There aren’t many places left that sell this classic Ding Ding Candy, but you can try looking for them at your local wet market, or at one of the last remaining traditional tuck shops in Hong Kong.
Honey Lemon Tea Candy
Now, we know these may not look much, but Honey Lemon Tea Candy is a must-have sweet confection for candy trading in any school playground (do kids still do that?). Although the logo design has changed over time, its bright yellow packaging still remains the same, reminding us of the time when $1 could buy us a handful of these bad boys. Honey Lemon Tea Candy is not hard to find, but it’s not easily found either. Nowadays, you will usually see them sitting in a bowl at the front desk of a doctor’s office, hotel, or even at the check-in counter at the airport – if you’re lucky!
Is it a toy? A piece of candy? Or an instrument? Well, why not all three? Whistle Candy is a fun sugary treat that is adored by kids (and adults) of all ages. Simply hold the piece of candy upright between your lips, blow through the hole, and a loud whistling sound will be made – just don’t get too carried away or you’ll start drooling! Oh, and don’t forget about the tiny toy gift inside the paper box. We’re stilling holding out for that plastic motorbike.
Tattoo Sticker Bubble Gum
For around 50 cents, you can get yourself one of these sweet, sugary bubble gum treats, and the best part about it? The wrapper. While there are different versions of wrapper, with varying cartoon characters, every one comes with a tattoo sticker on the inside, with the most original being the Japanese cartoon character, Ultraman. Unfortunately, this tattoo sticker bubble gum is very hard to find these days, but you can always try your luck at a traditional convenience store or a wet market.
Ice Gem Biscuits
As my personal favourite sweet snack, forgive me if I’m a little biased with this one. Not only do these tiny, bite-sized biscuits with different coloured icing drops taste delicious, they’re also dangerously addictive. There are a few different ways to eat these – some like popping a big handful in one go, while others prefer to nibble on the icing first, before eating the biscuit (or maybe just ditching the biscuit altogether). However, I recommend crushing everything up into tiny pieces inside the packet, and start digging away with your spoon!
Bubble Candy definitely strikes a nostalgic chord for most Hongkongers. Back when Jumpin Gym USA was the most popular place to be, all you could think about was what prizes you wanted to exchange for a handful of game tokens that you’d just won. But apart from that, the brightly coloured candy claw machines were definitely the most popular “game” to play. Filled with bucketloads of fizzy Bubble Candy, these machines were relatively easy to get the hang of, meaning you were almost guaranteed to win a handful of them every time! Sadly, there are no more candy claw machines at Jumpin Gym, but you can still find these sweeties in most supermarkets and Aji Ichiban stores.