“White Rabbit” candies conquered hearts around the world … and added sweetness to Chinese childhood

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – When ice cream maker Adrien Borlongan tested the taste of “White Rabbit”, she thought it tasted more like “low-priced vanilla”. And when she added it to the list of flavors at Wanderlust Creamery in Los Angeles a few weeks later, visitors did not like it either.

But as soon as Borlongan posted a photo of an ice cream cone wrapped in White Rabbit paper, it went viral on social media. Made in Shanghai for the first time in the 1940s, candy is known for its distinctive red, white and blue wrappers that are adored by children all over China. When the Chinese started migrating, they took with them their favorite creamy white cakes.

Credit: Courtesy Wanderlust Creamery

Shortly after Borlongan posted this photo, her Wanderlust store was in high demand throughout California. Here I realized the phenomenon in her hands. Since then, the “White Rabbit” has become a constant on the store’s ice cream daily menu and is usually sold quickly through its online store.

But the ice cream bestseller story is so much more than taste, because it has to do with the Chinese community, strong sense of nostalgia and the coveted brand.

Made in China

So I caught the candy
Credit: CNN / Maggie Hiufu Wong

The White Rabbit has its roots in the now extinct ABC Business Corporation, which was founded in Shanghai in 1943. It was later sold to the state-owned food group and still owned by Guanxing Yuan.

Basically, the image of Mickey Mouse was decorated with the image of cake wrappers, very suitable to attract the attention of children. But as Chinese pride grew, images of the West became unpopular, so the company was renamed and replaced Mickey with an animated rabbit on the cover.

The combination of colors, eye-catching packaging and a sweet milky taste, creates a successful combination. The children of Beijing and Hong Kong grew up eating these cakes, which became the national symbol of the country, and the most famous, even the President of the United States of America Richard Nixon received a gift from her during his historic visit to China in. 1972.

So I caught the candy
Credit: CNN / Maggie Hiufu Wong

And white rabbit sweets managed to be a symbol of China without having political or controversial connections, to be a kind of diplomacy of Chinese cuisine.

Po shija? The creamy piece gets its consistency from the milk and has a piece of edible rice paper that separates the candy and the wrapper to prevent it from melting.

Over the years, the White Rabbit brand has tested other flavors, including red beans and peanuts. But the nostalgia is for its original version.

CNN contacted Guan Xingyuan, but the company declined to comment on its products.

The popularity of White Rabbit sweets in the market can be affected by various commodities.

In the younger generation there are loyal fans of the “White Rabbit” dessert who enjoy different flavors.

So I caught the candy
Credit: Shao Feng

When she teamed up with a local beauty brand to sell a “White Rabbit” flavored lipstick online in 2018, 920 products were sold in half a minute. Then 10,000 extra within three hours when the sales space opened the next day.

In 2019, he opened a “White Rabbit” milk tea shop in Shanghai and became so popular that people stood in line for 4 hours waiting their turn to buy a cup of milk tea.

New generation

So I caught the candy
Credit: Shao Feng

Some of the kids who grew up eating White Rabbit are now artists, managers and entrepreneurs trying to develop the brand.

“I grew up with White Rabbit candy. There was not much variety in candy during my childhood, and White Rabbit was very popular, even somewhat expensive,” said Li Qiang, founder of X + Living and chief design officer of the White Rabbit store in Shanghai.

“These candies have added sweetness to the childhood of many people,” he added.

Growing up in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, Li recalls that White Rabbit cakes have long been associated with holiday occasions in China and are a precious gift for children as a special reward. But what inspired him most was the evolution management philosophy philosophy of this brand.

So I caught the candy
Credit: Shao Feng

In this regard, he said, “The philosophy of this brand has kept pace with the evolution of contemporary business, such as partnering with other brands, opening pop-up stores, selling goods, until the opening of their first store flamurtar ”.

The brand’s modern identity is reflected in the interior design of its enduring store, which also sells White Rabbit wares, such as hand lotion, clothing and umbrellas.

The new JKS Culture and Arts Center is located in Shanghai and feels more like a futuristic children’s playground than a pastry shop.

The arrival was welcomed by a three-dimensional, art-inspired installation of milk flow, with curves covering an area of ​​200 square meters, in which visitors experience the frightening feeling of “falling into a rabbit hole”.

“Hopefully, as well as people being influenced by this art space, they will feel the spirit of the brand,” says Lee.

Attracting international fans

So I caught the candy
Credit: Shao Feng

Through creative collaborations with various brands, sweets has not only regained its place, but also gained popularity among the global audience in recent years, with the brand reportedly exporting its sweets to more than 40 countries.

Meanwhile, White Rabbit is commonly seen as an inspiration for grocery and other branded goods, which we find in Hong Kong, New York and digital stores.

But the company itself does not always view the use of the brand positively. There is a gray area in which companies and designers create products inspired by the famous brand without entering into an agreement with it.

So I caught the candy
Credit: Wanderlust Creamery

The controversy involves Wanderlust’s White Rabbit’s ice cream parlor. While Guan Shang Yuan indicated that the store had not obtained the rights to sell his White Rabbit brand, it was also noted on local news sites that this ice cream shop served a White Rabbit flavor in a regular cone, unlike the photo posted by Borlongan. online.

Borlongan, who grew up in California with Filipino parents, is aware of the powerful impact this dessert has on the Asian community, especially since she experienced her favorite flavors as a “sweet potato” in childhood.

While the success of White Rabbit sweets internationally has been organic, the rabbit logo seems to be getting the same attention.

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