Does anyone else remember what makes this sound?
When was the last time you’ve heard the strong, metallic ring of a hammer striking the chisel which results in wee bits of milky deliciousness?
Does this also make you nostalgic for simple pleasures when we didn’t have the Cadburies, Willy Wonkas and what-other-sweet-nots?
Sounds and tastes are two things
that make powerful imprints on our brains and memories.
But these , I’ve found, are one of the hardest memories to recreate.
Today, I’m feeling nostalgic about an almost-extinct, lost street food craft in Singapore – the Ting-Ting Tang ( 叮叮糖)
This candy is named after the sound the candy seller makes, trying to break the big dish of candy into smaller bits. He packs the wee bits of sweets into clear plastic.
I’ve never known what went into making those sweet milk treats. They may look like hard candy, but they sure can be sticky after you suck them for a while. And you cannot really keep them for too long because I remember I would try to save those treasured, hard-to-come-by treats by savouring them as slowly as I could. But after a day or less, they would start ‘melting’ into some yellowed deformed mess. They are best eaten fresh.
The last time I saw a Ting-Tang Uncle was when I was in Secondary School about 20 years ago. I was probably about 15 or 16. And I would see him standing at this overhead bridge just before Parkway Parade, the bridge where the escalator never seemed to work. Even then, it was a rare treat for me to see him.
Alas! I’ve never found out what they are made of. A google search turned up this fact that they are usually made of white sugar, maple syrup and glutinous rice but it can also be apparently made out of maltose and honey. This interesting article from a Malaysian site, Listening for the Ting Ting, features one of the last few surviving ting-ting sellers in Kuala Lumpur, using a 60-year-old chisel handed down by his forefathers! I also learnt from this article that the Chinese called these “ Gui Fei sweets (concubine sweets) because only the emperor’s concubines consumed these delicacies back in the dynasty days”.
I also found a youtube video of a Malaysian Chinese programme that shows how the Ting-Ting candy is made.
What childhood sounds and tastes do you miss in Singapore?