How Shanghai’s White Rabbit Candy Became a Globally Loved Brand

The+famous+Chinese+White+Rabbit+candy

Wikimedia Commons

The famous Chinese White Rabbit candy

The White Rabbit candy, a highlight of Chinese children’s childhood, is now a nice, sweet snack for people worldwide.

Originally, when Adrienne Borlongan experimented with the White Rabbit flavor for her ice cream, she compared it to the taste of “cheap vanilla.” After adding it to the rotating lineup at her Los Angeles shop, Wanderlust Creamery, customers were about as “meh” on it as she was. However, when Borlongan posted a picture of an ice cream cone wrapped in White Rabbit- ingrained paper, word spread rapidly on social media. First manufactured in Shanghai in the 1940s, the candy is known for its iconic red-white-and-blue packaging and is cherished by children all around China. When Chinese people began emigrating over the world, their love for the white, delicate candy went with them. Soon after Borlongan posted that photograph, people were driving to Wanderlust from all parts of California. Since then, White Rabbit has been the centerpiece of Wanderlust’s ice cream lineup and is often sold out. The story of the best-selling ice cream goes way further than taste– it’s about the Chinese diaspora, the power of nostalgia, as well as the lovable, eye-catching branding.

The origins of the White Rabbit candies go back to 1943, founded in a now-defunct business, the ABC Company. Later on, it was sold to the Guan Sheng Yuan Food Group, which still owns it today. In the beginning, the candies had a Mickey Mouse on their wrappers to  appeal to children. However, the company decided to rebrand and put cartoon rabbits on instead due to the growing Chinese national pride. The mix of the colorful wrappers and the amazing milky taste was definitely a winner. From Beijing to Hong Kong, children grew up eating these sweets, and it even became a national symbol of China. The flavor has a creamy consistency that comes from actual milk, as well as a thin, edible layer of rice paper around the candy in order to avoid melting. White Rabbit did try different flavors too, such as red bean and peanut, although it was the original that connected with the most nostalgia. 

The White Rabbit brand has gathered a great amount of new followers within the newer generation. When it collaborated with a local beauty brand in 2018 to sell some White Rabbit-inspired lip balms, the first batch that consisted of 920 products sold out in under a minute. Additionally, 10,000 sets of lip balms were sold out in three hours the next day when sales opened. In 2019, people were waiting in line for hours for a cup of milk tea at a pop-up White Rabbit Milk Tea shop. Even some of the kids who grew up on White Rabbit candies are artists and chefs for the brand now.