If not for the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Zheng's Sesame Candy, a local snack in a Central China town, would see its sales reach a historic peak this year.
Though suffering from the epidemic, the company made a large donation for the country. It gave 1,108 boxes of sesame candy, 1,000 boxes of cereal, and 127 boxes of pepper salt walnut to frontline workers for epidemic control in Dengfeng city, Central China's Henan province.
Zheng's Sesame Candy, in Luotuoya village, Donghua town of Dengfeng city, is a time-honored brand with a history of over 300 years. The candy from here is extremely crisp and sweet, and the technique used in its making was listed as an intangible cultural heritage item for Dengfeng in 2018. Zheng's Sesame Candy was also invited to take part in the Lunar New Year activities at the Palace Museum in Beijing in 2019, an event organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Luotuoya village has enjoyed much fame for its sesame candy, starting centuries ago. According to the introduction, the first inheritor of Zheng's Sesame Candy was Zheng Guoyu in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and now Zheng Shaoxu is the seventh. His grandfather, Zheng Guangzhi, is the fifth.
It is said Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) especially preferred the sesame candy in Dengfeng. When standing at the summit of Songshan Mountain, she looked down toward the city, and thought the sesame production base resembled a camel, which is how the place got its name: Luotuoyuan or Luotuoya皇家棋牌平台, "Camel Garden".
Sesame candy is an important food during Chinese Spring Festival. According to traditional custom, on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month people offer a sacrifice to the Kitchen God, and dispatch him to the Jade Emperor to report on the family's conduct over the past year. Among the offerings, the most important are sweets, including sesame candy, which is meant to seal the Kitchen God's mouth and encourage him to only say good things about the family when he makes his report.
The whole process of making Zheng's Sesame Candy is quite complicated and needs a great deal of labor. First, the malt must be soaked in water, and watered twice each day to promote sprouting. When the malt sprouts to 3 centimeters, it is smashed. Second, corn grits are boiled into syrup in a large pot. Then the smashed malt is put into the pot and stirred. Third, the mixed liquid is cooled down and then fermented to make the final syrup. Fourth, the sugar sticks are removed and stained with sesame.
Luotuoya village is not only selling its branded sesame candy, but also has become a study base for students. It has a farming culture museum, as well as a workshop for visitors to watch the whole process of making sesame candy.
According to current inheritor Zheng Shaoxu, the village has welcomed many visitors from home and abroad. It has been made an appointed study base for students from primary schools and high schools in Dengfeng city. Around 50 youngsters from Panama and Indonesia came to Luotuoya village to visit the sesame workshop and experience traditional Chinese culture in December 2019.