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Hard rabbit to break

The White Rabbit is a character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a work of children’s fiction by Lewis Carroll, pseudonym of English mathematician and author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. It was published in 1865.

In 1967, White Rabbit was a psychedelic rock song from Jefferson Airplane’s album Surrealistic Pillow. In 2004, the song made it to Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Today, White Rabbit is that candy the Bureau of Food and Drugs (Bfad) doesn’t find yummy because it allegedly contained formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is an enemy of the state because it causes nasal, lung and brain cancer, leukemia, and civil unrest.

If that doesn’t scare you, Formaldehyde is the first album by the rock band Terrorvision, released in 1993. Now, that band is scary not to mention relatively unknown.

Formaldehyde (the carcinogen, not the album) is commonly used for embalming, mainly because the dead don’t care if they get eczema or warts. Use it in food, like what the Chinese are accused of doing with their candies, and you’ll get in trouble with Bfad.

If Bfad is right, did White Rabbit already contain formaldehyde when it first came out in China in the 1940s and when it became that country’s leading export item shortly after that?

I never thought of poison when I had my first White Rabbit in grade school. We all loved White Rabbit, even if what we were having was confusingly brown. What made the candy even more popular among us kids was when we were told that our White Rabbit was ‘fake’ and the ‘original’ White Rabbit was tastier, creamier, softer and – surprise – actually white!

The white White Rabbit was imported from China, we were told. That was why it was more expensive, which made it even more desirable to barrio kids like us. And here’s the killer: The white White Rabbit came in an edible paper-like wrapping! For once, our parents were wrong. Not all candy wrappers were plastic. We wondered if our brown White Rabbit could beat that.

When a classmate brought to school a bag of this imported candy, we noticed another difference. The imported rabbit was cuddly, cute, wide eyed, bursting with energy and frozen in the act of leaping with joy, while its local counterpart looked emaciated, like it was sick of something. Truly Pinoy.

But it was the happy rabbit that got Bfad’s beating recently. In fact, Candyman Philippines, the maker of our local White Rabbit Butter Toffee candy, is supporting Bfad’s call to pullout orders of the Chinese-made White Rabbit Creamy Candy, along with three other Chinese-made products.

The Chinese are angry and called Bfad irresponsible. Guan Sheng Yuan, the manufacturer of White Rabbit Creamy Candy, countered with an independent report, saying that samples of their White Rabbit ready for export contained no toxic substances.

They know they have White Rabbit’s popularity to back them up. The candy is China’s top export item to more than 40 countries and territories now, including the US, Europe and Singapore. Their jolly rabbit has gone global.

This little trivia, therefore, is telling: The candy actually started out with a Mickey Mouse drawing and was called ABC Mickey Mouse Sweets. But a xenophobic China changed the drawing to a rabbit because it considered Mickey Mouse a symbol for worshiping foreign countries.

But I don’t care, really. That edible wrapper still amazes the little boy in me.

(sun.star cebu, 2007)

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3 Responses to “Hard rabbit to break”

  1. “But I don’t care, really. That edible wrapper still amazes the little boy in me.”

    i remember those times when i thought all white rabbit’s wrapper are edible….
    so, i try eating some but di jud malanay.. hahahaha…
    engot na bata!

  2. Hahaha. Well, yeah. Just like the paper in siopao (I think, though I never got to chowing it down) they’re edible. I used to get mine when my dad buys wine mass. Could it be that they were marketed together? Or am I just trying to make a fool out of myself here by saying so? Hahaha.

  3. hala! dili diay kan-on og apil ang papel sa siopao? 🙂


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