Dragon's Beard Candy Is A Delectable Chinese Treat With Royal Origins

When most of us think of Chinese food, our minds may go directly to dumplings, sesame chicken, and fried rice. However, China is also home to other delectable treats, including some delicious desserts. One Chinese dessert is a type of candy referred to as Dragon's Beard, a festive Chinese New Year dessert that people enjoy during the holiday.

Dragon's Beard is made of boiled and pulled sugar, giving it a delightfully sweet taste (and high-calorie content). It's a cotton candy predecessor made of pulling sugar and has roots that date back long ago.

In fact, Dragon's Beard Candy is said to be so old that it dates back to the Han Dynasty in China as a delicacy served to the royal family. If that's piqued your interest, keep reading. Here's what to know about the ancient origins of Dragon's Beard Candy and how it's become such a beloved treat today.

The history behind Dragon's Beard Candy

As the story goes, Dragon's Beard Candy was first invented by a chef in the Imperial Court during China's Han Dynasty. He made a unique and intricate candy before the Emperor, providing entertainment and a delicious treat. The candy in question was Dragon's Beard Candy, which resembled the long white hairs on a dragon's chin.

Although this is the most widely accepted story, there are other theories that this candy got its name because of how the cotton-like sugar sticks to your face when you eat it, making people look like they've got a scraggly white beard — much like a dragon.

Further tying this candy to the Chinese Imperial Court is that the Chinese dragon is a symbol of the Emperor. Since the candy was consumed largely by the Emperor and those with money, thanks to the intricate process of making it, it may have been called Dragon's Beard candy for that reason instead.

How is Dragon's Beard candy made?

Although Dragon's Beard candy has been around for centuries, the process of making it hasn't changed too much in all that time. In fact, it's still made largely by hand, making it a time-consuming dessert to create.

Richard News tells us that this is a Lunar New Year's treat that's made by boiling down sugar until it forms a solid substance. From there, chefs pull and stretch the solid sugar, slowly mixing it in with rice flour or cornstarch. As they work the sugar, it becomes thin and stringy, forming what looks like a Chinese dragon's beard.

Once the sugar has been worked into this stringy form, chefs will often add toppings such as sesame seeds or nuts, giving it a festive feel. Some chefs may also add food coloring to the candy so that it has fun colors.

No matter how chefs decorate it, however, the candy has the same sweet taste with hints of the nuts and additives that they throw in.