Malaysia’s Tanghulu Craze: The Addictive Chinese Street Food Trend Everyone’s Talking About

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source: Takes Two Eggs

Tanghulu; a name you may have subconsciously heard among the buzzing of street markets and probably on TV or online, as this delectable food trend continues to make waves across Asia – leaving a sweet, crunchy trail in its wake.

The catchy term “tanghulu” is Chinese in origin. It comes from the Mandarin word “糖葫芦” (táng hú lu), which is composed of the following parts:

(táng): The English word for this is “sugar.” It alludes to the tanghulu’s distinctive sugar covering; and 葫芦 (hú lu), meaning the “calabash gourd”, a sort of squash or fruit resembling a bottle, is referred to using this moniker. When the fruits are lined up on the tanghulu skewer, it is said that the shape corresponds to a calabash gourd.

But what exactly is tanghulu, and why are locals hyping it up so much lately?

Well, one of the more widespread trends across the nation is Korean culture, particularly K-pop, and BLINKs would definitely remember that clip of Jennie and Jisoo trying (and failing) to make their own tanghulu at home.

This unassuming dessert is actually pretty difficult to prepare. Apart from making sure the fruits (mostly strawberries, grapes and oranges) are ripe and juicy before securely skewering them, the vital part is making the sugar coating, which entails heating granulated sugar until it melts and caramelises. This involves lots of careful stirring, and making sure not to burn the sugar in the process.

source: Tom’s Guide

Sounds familiar? Yup, many netizens have pointed out that the syrupy consistency that’s left to harden into a crunchy dessert is essentially the same as those adorable shaped sweets that regained popularity after being featured in Squid Game.

Unlocking a time capsule of childhood bliss

source: Panda Sheffy

In both instances, it was mentioned that the joys of tanghulu are deeply rooted in Asian culture.

Apart from being a media-invoked trend, generations have long valued it as a customary snack, especially on special days and during festivities like the Lantern Festival and Chinese New Year. As people get together to enjoy these delightful delicacies and make invaluable memories, tanghulu is frequently shared and enjoyed with friends and family, acting as a symbol of togetherness and fostering social bonding.

Taking a bite towards sweet fortune

source: Food Recipes Today

Tanghulu is served on special occasions for reasons other than savouring a tasty dessert. Tanghulu, like many other Chinese sweets, is symbolic and bears cultural prominence.

It is believed that having tanghulu during festivities brings blessings as well as positive energy into the year ahead since the traditional red colour of the sugar glaze on tanghulu is regarded lucky, symbolising good fortune and prosperity.

A tasty tale woven into the threads of Asian culture

source: CBC

The cuisine and cultural traditions of Asia, especially China, are reflected in tanghulu. It displays the talent and ingenuity of the artists who use conventional procedures and techniques to make these delicious treats.

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When I visited a popular tanghulu stall located in Petaling Street recently, it was manned by an elderly gentleman, who was pleased at the sight of my sister and I excitedly making orders and arguing over how to split the skewers between us. He proudly told us that the sweets were handmade through a recipe passed down by his parents, both Chinese nationals who owned a small tanghulu stall back in their hometown outside one of the public schools – noting that our fighting over the sticks reminded him of how the kids used to behave.

It was a heartwarming experience to witness firsthand how food can make such an impact on culture and human bonds.

Where edible artistry meets Insta-worthy delight

source: Pinterest

Today, tanghulu has evolved into a social fad and a must-have for those seeking to sweeten their Instagram feeds.

The visual appeal of tanghulu has risen owing to new technology and concepts; some places have even decorated the candies with adorable stickers and frequently wrap them in attractive packaging. Sometimes they even come with multi-coloured sugar coatings, such as yellow and green.

It goes without saying that tanghulu’s visual value significantly contributes to its ability to draw attention, entice people to try it, and become a preferred option for a variety of festivities and occasions. Its attractive appearance adds to the treat’s overall appeal and creates a pleasurable sensory experience.

source: Food & Wine

In a world where food meets art, tanghulu has emerged as a true cultural sensation. From its humble beginnings as a street food delight in China, tanghulu has now taken center stage, doubling as a trendy accessory that graces the screens, thanks to its newfound representation in media.

So next time you indulge in tanghulu, savour not only its delectable flavors but also the cultural phenomenon it has become – a treat that brings people together and adds a touch of sweetness to our lives.

Try not to overdo it, though… I had 6 skewers to myself the last time and let’s just say my stomach did not appreciate it.