Chinese Lollipop, a Nostalgic Fun

You've heard of glass blowing. Have you heard of sugar blowing? It is the same concept but different set of skills. In China, candy-blowing is a kind of traditional handicraft in the folk, which is believed to have originated during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), with a history of more than 700 years.

Formerly, especially with the arrival of the winter, the candy men made their appearance in the streets of Beijing. One finds some still today, but they are much fewer and they concentrate their activities in festivals and holidays, especially the temple fairs held in the Spring Festival. 

Candy men boil sugar and water until it thickens, take a dollop and knead it into a hollow ellipsoid. One end has a long tail with a pinhole into which they blow, turning it around so as to fashion it into the required shape. Within one minute the raw candy is transformed into an animal. They usually manufacture these figurines with the request.

For example, if a child known as: "I want a small squirrel", the candy man will take a small piece of the mixture of sugar of his pot, will twist it and stretch it to make there enter a little air. It deposits then this mixture of sugar between the two parts of a mould out of wooden. Then, it places the mean part of the mixture of sugar in its mouth and starts to blow slightly inside. The mixture then will inflate little by little and fill the mould.

After having withdrawn the mixture of the mould, the candy man will grip it here and to form the ears and the mouth there. In little time, the squirrel will take form. The candy man then will paint the eyes and the mouth in red to give even more life to the small animal.

The puffed up sugar figurines are fragile, because their parts can fall easily. For example, if the ambient temperature is too high, the figurines will start to melt. This is why these figurines are usually sold only during the winter.

Another type of figurines is drawn rather than puffed up, that is, the handicraft of sugar painting. The salesman pours syrup carefully and slowly on the smooth surface of a stone plate to draw an image. Since the syrup feature must resemble that of a brush, the artist must have an excellent control of his "brush" in order to form sometimes thin lines, sometimes thick. Moreover, it must carry out its drawing in only one blow. The spectators are often amazed to see appearing a flower, a bird or a person on the stone plate. Then, before the syrup drawing is dry, the salesman will attach a stick in bamboo to it. A few minutes later, the sugar image is ready. Today, few people can "draw" this type of images. This form of popular art is in process of extinction.