Tanghulu: The Art of Candied Fruit Perfection

Tanghulu, also known as bingtanghulu, is a traditional Chinese snack that has delighted taste buds for centuries. This classic treat consists of candied fruits skewered on bamboo sticks, with hawthorn berries being the most iconic fruit used, though modern variations include strawberries, grapes, kiwi, and other fruits. Tanghulu combines a crunchy, glassy sugar coating with the juicy, tangy fruit inside, offering a harmonious blend of textures and flavors that make it a beloved snack among both children and adults.

Origins and History

The origins of tanghulu are steeped in Chinese history, with its tradition dating back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). It is believed to have started as a medicinal snack when a street vendor decided to coat hawthorn berries in sugar to make them more palatable. The hawthorn berry, known for its digestive benefits, was transformed into a sweet treat, and over time, tanghulu became a popular snack throughout China.

Preparation and Variations

The traditional method of making tanghulu involves skewering the fruits on bamboo sticks, then dipping them into a hot sugar syrup. The fruits are coated evenly with the syrup and then left to harden, creating a shiny, crisp outer shell. While hawthorn berries are the classic choice, the adaptability of tanghulu has led to a wide variety of fruits being used, catering to different tastes and preferences.

Modern twists on tanghulu include the addition of chocolate, sesame seeds, or nuts to the sugar coating, adding layers of flavor and texture. Some vendors even experiment with savory versions, skewering cherry tomatoes or other vegetables for a unique snack experience.

Enjoying Tanghulu

Eating tanghulu is a sensory experience. The initial crunch of the sugar coating followed by the burst of tangy fruit flavor is what makes tanghulu irresistibly delicious. It’s best enjoyed fresh, with the sugar coating crisp and the fruit juicy. When biting into a skewer of tanghulu, one can’t help but appreciate the simple yet ingenious combination of sweet and sour, crunchy and soft.


Tanghulu is more than just a snack; it’s a cultural icon that embodies the simplicity and richness of Chinese culinary traditions. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its delightful taste and the joy it brings to people of all ages. Whether enjoyed during a festive celebration or as a sweet treat on a winter day, tanghulu continues to capture hearts and palates, remaining a cherished part of China’s culinary landscape.

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