If you know us, you know we love us some sweets.  When we were kids, our parents used candy and pretty much anything sweet to keep us occupied.  This went for anything from dreaded haircuts (caramel chews leftover from Halloween) to shopping trips in Chinatown (jellies wrapped in rice paper, filled marshmallows, rabbit candy).  Included on the list for Chinatown are haw flakes.

A haw flake

I used bring this as a mini snack to go with my lunch in elementary school, until I shared a flake with one of my friends and she pronounced it tasted like cardboard.  Actually it tastes sweet!  Not like cardboard!  I was so sad that she spit it out and threw it away.  Story of my life.  In any case, I happened to be in Chinatown this week.  I saw the haw flakes and (my stomach) couldn’t help myself to the little rounds of memories.  If memory serves me correctly, I think they shrank the size of the disks now.

And what are haw flakes?  I don’t really know, but this week, I thought it was time to find out.

According to Wikipedia, the flakes are made from a fruit called the Chinese hawthorn.  The fruit is processed into round, thin disks and often taken as an herbal medicine.  And now for the part of the wiki entry that freaked me out a little:  haw flakes have been seized by the FDA in the past for use of unapproved food coloring.  Great.  I’ve eaten 3 packs this week so I’m gonna die.  Although Mui assures me we ate so much of these during our formative years so we should be fine (or are we??).

There are other versions of these flakes too.  One of my favorite ones is the “hamburger,” slices of these haw flakes with haw jelly-like layers.  Why it’s called hamburger, I’ll never know – are Chinese hamburgers made of haw?  A mystery of the world…