Finding delicious snacks in Shanghai is easy, and usually these foods are actually calculatedly healthy!
Tea Eggs. These may look like an item only Sweeney Todd would devour, but they are actually great tasting and incredibly healthy. The first few times I saw them at the convenience store, bubbling away in a vat of black liquid I have to admit the smell and sight were a bit off putting. Eventually a Chinese friend urged me to try them. Basically, they are eggs boiled in black tea and spices, including soy sauce, anise stars and bay leaves.
I’ve also grown fond of another of Shanghai’s best snacks. You can find this on the street sold by men who carry the arrangement around on the back of a bike. The snack?– sugar coated fruit on a stick! It is so delicious, extremely affordable and perfect for a carry-along snack. The snack is also a bit healthier for you than it looks. Coated in burnt sugar, the Hawthorne berries (which regulate the heart) and the mix of fruits (that regulate digestion) actually help you stay healthy while you snack! Awesome!
If you followed the melamine crisis in Shanghai then you’ve probably heard of the White Rabbit candies. These vanilla taffy candies are extremely popular with young children in Shanghai (and adults!) and even when the melamine scare hit and White Rabbit was implicated, I still saw folks in the stores buying packages in bulk. Now that is a testament to how delicious they are! Today, there is no melamine (eat car free!) in the White Rabbit candies, so enjoy without fear.
Rice balls. This is a snack many children enjoy, especially around the lantern festival. Basically, it is a gluttonous rice ball with sesame paste inside. It looks like a green glob of play-dough wrapped in plastic, and to the untrained palate it tastes like play-dough with a bit of texture rolled in. However, the taste and texture grow on you, and after the first or second try you’ll be ready to dive into a rice ball snack anytime. You can find that at almost any convenience store.
Last but not least, packaged meat snacks! My favorite is, of course, something I was always used to– jerky. But in Shanghai the options for packaged meat are vast. One of the most comical to a westerner might be the packaged chicken feet. But locals really enjoy the tasty snack. Yes, I’ve tried it and it isn’t horrible, but I don’t use the chicken’s toenail to pick my teeth clean after I devour it either.