糖葫芦 (Tánghúlu) is a Northern Chinese sweet snack consisting fruits or berries on a skewer, covered in hard candy. They’re particularly popular in the winter.
Once upon a time in the Song dynasty, the emperor’s most beautiful concubine fell ill and wouldn’t eat. Everyone was worried sick, and no medicine worked. Finally, a wise doctor suggested dipping fruits in sugar water, and soon (due to a medical miracle or simply sweet-toothedness?) the concubine was back in action.
Tánghúlu can be made with lots of different fruits (strawberries, grapes, kiwis, you name it), but are most commonly structured around mountain hawthorn (山楂, shānzhā). At first sight, these look like a mix between little red apples and strawberries.
The red fruits are used for many other sweets in China as well, from the little coin-shaped, chewy shānzhāpiàn to cakes, teas, or simply as dried fruit snacks.
Sweet and sour childhood memories. Sohu