White Rabbit Memories turned Bad?

A follow-up report is featured in a later post. Click here to read.

white rabbitMy childhood revolved around the 80s, so it’s natural that the sweets that figured greatly in my memories are either locally produced, or imported from China. During those days, chocolates and candies from the US were exorbitantly priced, probably due to import tariffs so the only times we’d have them was when relatives from the States sent us care packages. For ordinary everydays, what we’d have were cheap candies from the corner sari-sari store.

One of these candies was White Rabbit. A chewy, milky, nougat-like candy, it was tasted sweet and creamy while offering a resilient yet smooth texture that was fun to chew. Still, it was just candy. What made White Rabbit extra special was the edible wrapper. Under the printed plastic wrapper, the actual candy was wrapped with a thin, translucent wafer. This was such a big deal, as kids we would differentiate the prized White Rabbit from the locally made brown colored White Rabbit—why it wasn’t called Brown Rabbit, I’ve no idea—with the unedible wrapper. White White Rabbits were special, precious, and definitely prized.

So you can imagine last night’s shock when White Rabbit was revealed to be one of the Chinese products that were found tainted with Formaldehyde. Yes, Formalin.

The famous White Rabbit creamy candy — which was once given as a gift to former US President Richard Nixon — and three other food products from China were found to contain the poisonous chemical substance formaldehyde, commercially known as formalin or formol.

The Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) came out with the findings, after inspecting for more than two weeks over 600 food products that the Philippines imported from China.

BFAD Deputy Director Joshua Ramos told GMA News’ 24 Oras on Monday that the agency’s report on the findings, signed by Director Barbara Gutierrez and submitted to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, will be used as basis to ban these products made in China.

“We will be issuing a public health advisory, advising consumers to refrain from buying such goods until (these) are proven safe,” said Ramos.

A friend of mine argues that we’ve been eating these things since we were kids and nothing bad ever happened to us. A part of me agrees with his line of reasoning. It does make sense. But still, another part of me is adamant and would rather not risk it. And even if I were still willing to eat it, it’s likely that it will now be banned.

So, that’s another part of my childhood down the drain. What’s next? Haw Flakes? Chocolate Mallows? Yakult? Sadness. Total sadness.

Read the complete newsfeed at:

White Rabbit image modified from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:White_rabbit.jpg. Used under a GNU Free Documentation License.

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33 Responses to White Rabbit Memories turned Bad?

  1. ellen says:

    I grew up eating these White Rabbits too!! They still sell these in the mom and pop shops here,though I hardly eat them anymore.But what a shocking news to know that one of my cherished childhood food is tainted with formalin.All these years we have been munching on sugary milky goodness…and poison…

  2. Bea says:

    Oh my goodness! That is sad! Huwaaaaaaaaaaaah!

  3. Rex says:

    Formalin in my system… yummy!

    Yo Kweesee! Am just sending a shoutout to yo website. :-)

  4. surrealistic says:

    White Rabbits \:D/

    I remember eating them during childhood.. the wrapper was eatable? :0

    But moving on….thats quite surreal…So it makes you wonder how long has Formalin been in the lollies? D:

  5. Drew says:

    It’s a good thing I never liked white rabbit. I loved menthol candies like Halls, Stork, and Mentos.

    Somewhat related news… in Beijing, China… Producers of Siopao (Meatbuns) put Cardboard (yes! cardboard box papers) in caustic soda and chop them up into strips and place them inside the buns instead of real pork meat… it was featured in CNN a week ago. Scary.

  6. dementedchris says:

    No wonder I ended up as demented as I am.

    Seriously, though, I wish I could just pretend I didn’t read this and go on eating. I, uh, really kinda don’t mind. I mean, I don’t eat it on a daily basis anyway. Sure, it can slowly kill me, but so will second-hand smoke. I’d rather die from White Rabbit than ciggie smoke. Hahaha!

  7. kaoko says:

    Well, you can, unless if they ban it. Then you can’t. 😛 (I know, I don’t make much of an argument but you know best how nutty my logic can be) I think I can go on eating stuff like carcinogenic burnt toast and salmonella ticking time bomb raw eggs on gyudon, but even if the formaldehyde level is really low, I don’t think I can bear the thought to eat something with formalin, simply because it’s formalin.

    Was the cardboard recycled? XD

    The thin wafer-like wrapper that was practically impossible to peel off the candy part, not the white and blue printed on wrapper 😀

    REXXXXXY! SEXY REXY! *hugs* fancy running into you here, got your email, will squeeze time to write during work tomorrow 😀

    • Drew says:

      Yes… the cardboard are made of recycled paper! This way… not only they save trees… they save money as well! I dunno about Lives though… but since China is one of the densely populated countries in the world, maybe its a good thing..ne? XD

  8. betty says:


    naku, oo nga, same as chris, i imagine eating all that white rabbit has affected my brain, hehe.

    love haw flakes… got so excited when i found out you can buy bags and bags of them in puregold. orange swits din!

    was nice meeting you last saturday. sana maulit… kainan na!

    • edong says:

      This product is sold worldwide. US FDA or Singapore Food Authority would not allow this if it truly contains formalin. FYI – the SGS and Intertec labs in Manila don’t have the equipment to test for formalin. Do you think BFAD has?

      • kaoko says:

        Much as I’m not a big supporter of the government, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt with this one. I am aware that it is sold worldwide but then, the witchhunt slew of testings on China-produced products is fairly recent so I’d rather play it safe.

        I have mixed reactions on this one. On one hand, I’d be happy if White Rabbit is overturned as safe. On the other hand, I’ll be even more worried that the BFAD is not reliable.

        Haw Flakes is love! Hehe, I actually have a bag stashed in my work drawer.

      • dementedchris says:

        Wag lang talaga nila i-ban ang Haw Flakes haha!

        And yeah, I’d be plenty worried if BFAD isn’t reliable! :p I’d rather suffer the consequences of my own stubborness than their inefficiency.

      • edong says:

        breaking news 10 pm tonight. test for formalin of white rabbit creamy candy results negative. clowns running bfad. damaging name of local white rabbit

      • kaoko says:

        That would be a relief to hear if so. Mind sharing a news link? I was watching the late evening news telecast on GMA7 (July 18, 11 PM or so) but the only news reported regarding this was the pull-out of White Rabbit and the request from the local distributor, Cheng Ban Yak, for a re-evaluation by BFAD, as well as an independent analysis with a private firm. I’m searching for news links right now as well, but it would be a great help if you could point me towards the right direction.

  9. Syrra says:

    Yeah, I remember feeling similar emotions when I found out that a Mexican seasoning/candy called Lucas that I had enjoyed in my childhood was contaminated with lead. Thought it was called a seasoning, everyone I knew in middle school ate it straight like a candy.

  10. zyna says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but didn’t comment. Now i just HAD to leave a comment.
    When I read your post I thought “Wow, I couldn’t have expressed it better” and than “mhh, I should ask my mother to bring a bag next time she is in Taiwan” (I’m living in Germany and it’s rather hard to get Asian food here, there’s only a little assortment). And then I get to the part with the Formaldehyde. I’m shocked!
    I loved them as a child and if my mother had given me the whole bag I would’ve eaten all of it straight away. They were so special! :(

    • kaoko says:

      @zyna and cyberpunk and all us White Rabbit fans
      There’s still hope for us! I think they’re doing further testing. This is one time when I hope the BFAD will be proven wrong, White Rabbit’s too precious!

  11. cyberpunk says:

    i love white rabbit too…the chewy one, not the brown one…

    geez, after all these years…

    i’m still in denial…i hope it’s not true :(

  12. Roms says:

    This news has come quite a shock, white rabbit have been one of my childhood candy (i never liked the hard one made locally). What really puzzled me is that white rabbit candy is one of the biggest candy brand being exported by china globally and the company have been around since the 40’s and suddenly just now this news?

    If indeed they do retest it and found to have no formalin, i pretty much doubt BFAD would announced it just like that (to save their reputation).

    I wonder though if the said product which they tested to have formalin was from the original distributor. White candy imitations has been abound for years.

    • kaoko says:

      That’s the thing, it’s a big international brand so we can expect the manufacturers to do something about it. Even the Chinese embassy’s in an uproar. I haven’t heard news about the third party testing but that might be more credible since they have no reasons to protect either side. Of course, if it’s a sponsored thing, that changes it.

      About the imitation, it was brought up by the Phil. Distributor, but the BFAD was vehement that they tested genuine White Rabbit, bought from a big supermarket chain and stamped with the Phil. Distributor’s info. Sure enough, it was presented on TV with the stamp. However, if a slip-up during the testing process occurred, or if it was an isolated batch, that changes things.

      Either way, it would be nice if it were cleared, regardless of whose fault. More than just not being able to eat it again, it’s the tainted nostalgia that I find pitiable.

  13. What! This just shocked me, a lot!, never thought that this sweet succulent piece of sweet is full of poisonous chemicals, or maybe just a little chemical, but all the same, hope that it will be cleared soon, and findings will show that it was just a mistake on the production side…

  14. ayue says:

    “Guan Sheng Yuan Co, the producer of the candies, invited SGS Group to test the candies and revealed the result on its Website today, saying that the candies don’t contain formaldehyde.”
    I worked in SGS Shanghai, and Guan Sheng Yuan’s HQ building just near my home, wonderful. It’s surprised me that many people like this candy so much

    • kaoko says:

      Thanks for the link Ayue! I’m working on an update right now so the more sources I could cite, the better. Now I’m just crossing my fingers they haven’t totally pulled it out of the shelves in Manila.

      • ayue says:

        Thank you Kaoko, for writing this down, and Let me find what could be a common memory between diffrent people in differnt countries.(and thanks google too, for leading me here *_*)
        I love japanese food too, but it’s very expensive to have here in Shanghai…

      • kaoko says:

        No need to thank me, I think people who find White Rabbit an important part of their childhood deserve to know as much info as they can so they can make the decision themselves.

        And about Japanese food, why not try cooking some yourself? Most Japanese dishes use easy cooking techniques and just need a few basic ingredients. 😀

  15. ayue says:

    uhnnn~I tried sushi, it’s easy, but other thing, their raw material is not that easy to get or too expensive…
    And I kind of believe in professional, so I prefer to have them in J restaurant.

    • kaoko says:

      Ah. Yeah, ingredient availability can be difficult. And I guess sometimes it also helps if it’s preferred by a trained chef 😀 I like eating in Japanese restaurants too, but I’m picky! Sometimes, when we eat at Japanese fastfoods, I don’t order stuff I know I can cook better suited to my tastes. :)

  16. carmela says:

    Sorry guys, but I’m really interested in your comments about White Rabbit Creamy Candy. I live in Panama, and the government is recalling the candy until further analysis is done. I read somewhere that Shanghai’s Branch of SGS does not have the equipment needed to detect formalin? I´m only asking because I thought it was an easy AOAC technique. If it’s not and it requires more sophisticated equipment then we are doomed!

    • kaoko says:

      The whole situation is very confusing now, with different parties saying that the testing group the other party used is ineffective. I have no idea how the actual testing is done, but the same thing was said by someone (I don’t recall who) about the Philippine Bureau of Food and Drugs.

      Right now, the Philippine distributor has pulled out their products while the BFAD does additional tests on a larger scale. I don’t know where this is heading but it would be nice if something conclusive, possibly a disinterested third party could step in. But then, they might find the issue too trivial :(

      Please let us know how it turns out in your country.

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