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Home History and Culture Little Things in Old Beijing (3)
Little Things in Old Beijing (3)
Learn Chinese - History and Culture
Sugar Figures
Making sugar figures is an old profession in Beijing. Sugar figure makers went from street to street with shoulder poles, carrying a cupboard on each side. One of the cupboards held charcoal and was the sugar figure makers' seat. The other one carried tools, a charcoal stove with a cuprum spoon full of maltose in the centre. On top of it were models of different kinds of sugar figures on straws. These , attracted lots of kids who followed the sugar figure maker around.

In the past, whenever the makers went to a hutong with their shoulder poles, the kids couldn't help but watch.

First, the maker takes a little maltose with a small spoon, and then nips the soft maltose by hands, plugs it into a wheat straw pole, blowing gently, using his hands to form a figure. . Soon, the soft maltose turns into a striking creature.

Many people think they can make sugar figures themselves. Although the makers will sell you some maltose, you won't be able to make even a simple bubble. Soon, the maltose will become dry and unusable.

Kids will be more excited about seeing the sugar figures than about eating them. In old times, kids rarely had pocket money and if one of them bought a sugar figure, all the other children would crowd around and admire it. For kids, sugar figures make attractive toys, but for adults, they are pieces of edible artwork that carry memories of childhood.

China Yellow Pages