Huguosi snack is a representative of the Beijing local snacks, well-known by its rich variety?prominent features, and profound historical and cultural flavors.
Huguosi, originally one of Beijing’s most bustling neighborhoods, got its name from the Huguo Temple, an old-line temple built in this area in the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1264-1295). During the past days, temple fair held each month was an important religious festival for both Buddhist and Taoist. People burned incense, worshiped god, strolled or did commodity trading in these days. The temple fair in Huguosi became a famous rendezvous for snack vendors; Huguosi snacks along with the temple fairs thus flourished for hundreds of years until the late Qing Dynasty when social turbulence came into being.
In 1956, Chinese government gathered a dozen of famous vendors to organize them into a state-owned Huguosi Snack Store. The location of the store was formerly the site of a famous temple fair in the western part of the city. Huguosi snacks retrieved a real sense of inheritance, protection, and development.
Nowadays, the store, as one of few old brand-name state-owned businesses, still continues its tradition by treating people with various delicious snacks. Therein, nian gao (glutinous rice cake), dou bao (steamed buns with smashed red bean stuffing), xi zi bing (a cake with the Chinese character for ‘happiness’ on it) and mian yu’er (a cake shaped like a fish) are some of the most popular foods at the store during big holiday shopping.
It is interesting that most of these foods carry auspicious meanings. For example, nian gao literally means: "better this year than last year". The fish cake is considered auspicious because fish in Chinese (yu) means surplus. The Chinese hope they are prosperous and rich in each New Year.
Other foods available include many kinds of traditional Beijing snacks. Some of the most famous treats are lv da gun (rolling donkey), a soft yellow rice and soybean cake; ai wo wo, a white glutinous rice cake with a variety of stuffing; wan dou huang, a smooth tasting yellow pea cake; and jiao quan, a deep-fried crispy flour ring and so on.