An insight into Pinwang Delicious Candied Haw Strips (品旺-山楂丝)
So we've all seen them—plastic wrapping in an array of different colors, flavors and sizes with screaming Chinese characters glaring out at you in a technicolored bombardment of the senses. Do we dare put their contents in our mouth? I'm talking about those not-so appetizing packaged foods we see littered around Chengdu's market stalls, subway shops and street vendors. The endless shelves of packaged foods Chengdu has to offer can sometimes be overwhelming. This column will reveal, one snack at a time, what is available, and invite you to brave the unfamiliar.
This week, I have abandoned the savory snacks of the previous articles in search of a chemically enhanced sugar fix from one of Chengdu's vast selection of 'sweet' packaged foods. I selected a pack of Pinwang Delicious Candied Haw Strips (品旺-山楂丝) from a local Wowo store on Lingshiguan Lu. Not knowing what 'haw' was, I immediately looked it up. Haw berries are the fruit produced by the Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus Pinnatifida), and are a popular ingredient in many Chinese snacks, jams, jellies, juices and alcoholic drinks.
The teasing, or perhaps just confusing, slogan on the packaging—"How delicious, don't you taste it"— certainly intrigued me enough to part with 3.5RMB for this snack. The mystery continued once I noticed the rather bizarre image of a country house surrounded in trees and mountains on the front of the pack.
Under a generous layer of sugar, the haw strips have a dark red color and measure about 6cm in length. Appearance-wise, they resemble those sugared sour lace sweets you see in western candy shops. The taste is quite different though. Initially, my tongue is overwhelmed by the sickly-sweet sugar coating, but once I bite down on the strips they release the tart and slightly bitter flavor that is associated with the haw berry- somewhere between the sharpness of American Bing cherries and the sweetness of strawberries.
They leave a strong tangy taste that lingers on my tongue, reminding me to delve back into the pack to refresh my taste buds, which have an increasing desire for another sugar injection. I'm unsure of how much I like them. I'm not sure that I care anymore. All I know is that I keep eating them. They're very addictive to the point that I now feel queasy. So for those of you like me, born without strong willpower, I wouldn't suggest eating a 120g pack alone.
A serving suggestion can be quite difficult for candy, but all the sugar is making me crave a can of orange flavored fizzy pop to heighten my already soaring blood-sugar levels.
Pinwang Delicious Candied Haw Strips 品旺-山楂丝
Jinxing Foods 金兴食品
Price: 3.5 RMB