“There’s nothing as cozy as a piece of candy and a book.” –Betty MacDonald
Looking back at your childhood, how much did you enjoy candy? How tempted were you by their colorful packages and yummy scent? Did you enjoy Halloween trick or treats? Did the sugar rush keep you from sleeping well at night?
My recent travel to Singapore had me crossing paths again with White Rabbit candy and I was so excited to bring some back home. But what if I told you that there was a time when I absolutely abhorred this candy? Read on to find out why.
The White Rabbit candy has quite a history. It started in 1943 and remains popular to this day. However, this chewy, creamy candy has had its share of scandals a decade ago, with the issue of formaldehyde contamination in 2007 and melamine contamination in 2008. There were also fake White Rabbit candies sold in some countries like the Philippines. I am willing to bet that the fake ones were the brown, toffee-flavored hard candies that were nowhere near as good as the original.
The first time I remember trying this candy was on a bus ride home from Batangas. I was probably three or four years old at that time and I was the type of kid who threw up in the bus. So, my nanny probably gave me candy to prevent that from happening. I was so excited because I could see my nanny and my sister enjoying the candy.
The moment I opened the wrapper, the scent sweet, milky scent of the candy was calling to me already. However, I noticed that there was yet another wrapper on the candy. It was thin, almost translucent, and was very much stuck to the candy. I spent a long time trying to remove the thin wrapper, to the point that my fingers were already sticky because the candy was starting to sort of melt from the warmth of my hands. I was more stressed than excited about it and I just badly wanted to eat the candy already.
I don’t remember being able to eat the candy. I think I dropped it and just got sick of trying to remove the thin wrapper that no one told me was actually edible because it was only rice paper. What I do remember is that I had a headache and a fever afterward that I attribute to the stress of unwrapping a White Rabbit candy.
It would take years before I would try to eat that candy again. I learned to love it, including the edible rice paper they used to wrap the candy before being wrapped in its outer, wax paper wrapping. Eventually, the candy became very scarce and was mostly available only in Aji Ichiban stores that weren’t too many when I was a kid. It was only in the last year that I managed to eat these treats again.
These days, White Rabbit candies come in many flavors. I remember seeing chocolate and matcha flavors when I went to FairPrice to shop for treats to bring home. These candies weren’t cheap either, selling at SGD2.90 per 180 grams pack (roughly PHP 110). It has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the 1940s and I am so proud of it.
If I will ever have kids of my own, I’d probably let them try this candy and see whether or not they will notice the rice paper wrapping and stress themselves out by trying to remove it too. I will tell them that once upon a time, Mommy had a fever from trying to do the same thing. Then we’ll have a good laugh about it.