Tanghulu (冰糖葫芦): A snack food popular in Northern China that is made from sugar coated hawthorns, yam or other fruit skewered on a bamboo stick; similar to candied apples, also 糖葫芦.
Xi Shi (西施) was one of the renowned Four Beauties of ancient China. She was said to have lived near the end of the Spring and Autumn Period in Zuni, the capital of the ancient state of Yue.
Xi Shi’s beauty was said to be so extreme that while leaning over a balcony to look at the fish in the pond, the fish were so dazzled that they forgot to swim and gradually sunk to the bottom of the pond, birds would forget to fly and fall from the sky, the moon would fade from embarrassment, and flowers would close their petals in shame of being compared to her.
Xi Shi is now a term used to describe beautiful women.
An Internet phenomenon occurring in China is anybody can become famous or infamous overnight. And sometimes for no reason other than just being who they are. Ok, a lot of them were actually hyped up for for unknown reasons by people behind the scenes, usually for personal gains. Still, every now and then, ordinary people become the talk of the nation overnight.
Tanghulu Xi Shi (糖葫芦西施) is the latest popular figure on the Chinese internet (this is the first article I saw about her.) It all started with a young, beautiful and fashionable girl selling tanghulu by Xi’an Jiaotong University. Within less than a year, this girl named Kang Xiaohan (康晓菡) was quickly popularized around the University, local male students gave her the nick name “Tanghulu Xi Shi” (Candy Haw Beauty).
There was a three-wheeled cart parked by the west side of Xi’an Jiaotong University on a sidewalk. On the tricycle, there is a food display case, inside are different kinds of candied hawthorn. Next to the tricycle, a girl is dressed in a white T-shirt, carrying a fashionable bag, with large silver earrings jingling along with a sweet smile. “Four tanghulu please!” two male students requested. The young girl quickly took four candied haws out from the display case, wrapped them in rice paper, handed over to the boys. “12 yuan!” she would respond cheerfully The students paid her and continued to walk into campus.
Students stopped by the stand even if they had no intention of buying candied haws. Boys always stole an extra look when passing by. “These are 3 yuan each, those are 2 yuan each, which one do you want?” The girl’s business thrived that morning; she sold 20 candy haws in 10 minutes and many male students preferring to eat their candied haws right next to the cart.
“This is the girl our boys call ‘Tanghulu Xi Shi’ “ Tiaotong university student Li said. “Tanghulu Xi Shi” is a hot topic on the university BBS (similar to a forum) and would often make it into the top 10 topics.
On the BBS, students have a lot to say on the topic of Tanghulu Xi Shi. Even people who had never seen her in person would jump onto the band wagon, praising how beautiful she was, swearing to go see her in person, supporting her business…
The university’s BBS is just where Tanghulu Xishi’s fame started. Then it spread to every website in the nation. Her pictures even made to the front page of local newspapers. Tanghulu Xishi just got increasingly popular in the last few days. Numerous media outlets have went to her stand to interview her. Her pictures are sweeping across the Chinese Internet. Youku posted a video interview with her. In the video, Candy Haw Beauty is just another simple, honest migrant worker in the city who did not think too much about her future, and just enjoying her successful business of selling candied haws.
Recently Tanghulu Xi Shi’s picture was on the front page of a newspaper which prompted netizens all over the country to become obsessed with her, and attracted even more media attentions. After a few days of constant interviews from all kinds of media, Tanghulu Xishi, only 19 years old, could not take the media and fans’ extreme infatuation anymore and stopped her business to rest at home. After a day of searching, Youku was able to contact her and she finally agreed a video interview with Youku to talk about her mixed feelings.
Kang Xiaohan : I am Kang, named Kang Xiaohan (康晓菡). I was born in 1990 and now I am 19 years old. I am from Anyang in Henan province. This is my 4 fourth year here at Xi’an.
Reporter: Now, netizens call you Tanghulu Xi Shi (糖葫芦西施Candy Haw Beauty). What do you think about this nick name?
Kang Xiaohan: I like this nickname. It’s lovely.
Kang Xiaohan: I just think it’s nice.
Reporter: When did you first notice people using this nickname?
Kang Xiaohan: Last year it started becoming frequent. Actually, I already heard the year before last, but not as often. It was last year at Jiatong University south gate that more people started to call me that and my business started doing better.
Reporter: Did more people come to buy your candy haws after your nick name became well- known?
Kang Xiaohan: Yes, many people. Some people didn’t even like eating candied haws but still would treat others. They also promoted my business to others. I am very happy about this.
Reporter: After the media got involved, many media outlets came to interview you – what are your thoughts now?
Kang Xiaohan: It’s not that I dislike reporters… actually I am happy, (shrug) how do I say it? The number of reporters that came to interview me affected my business and I could not continue my business. I already stopped my stand for couple days and I feel uneasy.
Reporter: What are you plans for the future?
Kang Xiaohan: The future? I haven’t thought about it, (smile) I just hope I can do well in my business now, I don’t think about other things. I’ve never attended university and I am just a girl from the country side and I don’t know what to do. (Shrug) I am still young right now, and I still don’t know what to do. I listen to my father on everything. I listen to parents because I am still young; I don’t know what I should do, what I should think.
Reporter: What do you do after work? What do you like?
Kang Xiaohan: I listen to music. Then read entertainment newspapers. I like to listen to music very much.
Reporter: Reading entertainment news? Such as Jay Chou and Xu Wei? What is your opinion of them?
Kang Xiaohan: Actually, I like many celebrities… I like them all. I like songs by male singers and I don’t really like female singers that much. Xu Wei is coming soon and he agreed to give me a chance to see him. I’ve never seen a star in my whole life and he told me I should give him some of my candied haws . I said sure, not a problem, I will give you dozens. I am very happy about that. All my friends were excited too.
Reporter: So your friends from your hometown have seen you online, what do they think?
Kang Xiaohan: When I saw the news I sent it to all my friends, told them the good news, and told them to go online to see it for themselves. They were all happy about the news and said “I feel honored to have you as a friend.”
Reporter: What do you want to say to all the netizens on the Internet who support you?
Kang Xiaohan: Thank you for the support. Come visit often to eat more candied haws! I am just happy. Thank you everyone.