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Old-time sweets and treats
By Gao Ceng

IN a traditional nan huo dian, besides buying preserved and dried food, Shanghainese used to buy plenty of candies and pastries for the Chinese New Year. Many traditional brands are facing tough competition from foreign counterparts, however, and are in danger of vanishing.

Here are a few of the most popular and traditional.

White Rabbit milk candy

The creamy candy originated in Shanghai in the 1940s. It's wrapped in waxed paper decorated with a cartoon rabbit. It has a sweet taste, strong milky aroma and chewy texture.

Chocolate liqueur

These chocolates are shaped like little wine bottles and filled with bai jiu, Chinese liqueur distilled from sorghum. It has a rich taste, strong aroma of spirits and long aftertaste.

Niu ga tang (nougat)

This is kind a creamy candy similar to nougat with crushed peanuts. It is chewy, with a sweet, milky, nutty flavor.

Su tang (crispy candy)

This is a kind of layered, crunchy candy made from crushed peanuts, walnuts or sesame. It has a crispy crush mouth-feel and intense, nutty aroma.

Tang nian gao (sweetened New Year's cake)

These cakes are made from rice sweetened with osmanthus paste. It's soft and glutinous with an elegant floral note. Gao sounds like "higher, promotion and progress." People buy it for the auspicious meaning.

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