“Why is Tanghulu bad?” My daughter asked, so I set the date.

In the past, there were special foods that could only be eaten if you went to a specific place. For example, Tanghulu is a dish made with fruits strung on long skewers and coated with sugar syrup.

When my two middle school daughters were young, I went to Incheon Chinatown a couple of times. The sweet Tanghulu that could only be eaten there at that time was truly ‘sweet.’ However, in just the past year or two, the number of Tanghulu specialty stores has increased rapidly, and now even convenience stores have started selling their own iced Tanghulu.

Tanghulu has now become a common snack that can be easily purchased and eaten anytime, anywhere. 

Tanghulu is by far the most popular, especially among children under teenagers. There is even a saying among children called ‘Maratanghulu’, which is a word that combines ‘Maratang and Tanghulu’. It refers to soothing your mouth with sweet tanghulu after eating spicy and spicy malatang. For children, ‘Maratanghulu’ has become a natural eating out course. Where is that? There is a saying that any country or any dessert becomes a K-dessert if it comes to Korea. Macarons became ttungkarons, croissants became crungy, and salt bread was filled with whipped cream, making it the ultimate sweet and salty treat. Tanghulu also has many variations, including Tanghulu shaved ice, Tanghulu ice cream, and Tanghulu highball. Tanghulu’s popularity makes me worry about children’s health.

Omakase, a Japanese word meaning ‘I leave it to you’, and Tanghulu, a Japanese course meal prepared and served by the chef, came together to create ‘Tanghulu Omakase’. It is a kind of random Tanghulu that is made by adding not only fruits but also cucumbers, rice cakes, marshmallows, jelly, etc. as desired by the maker. At that point, the strange and unusual Tanghulu굿모닝토토, which I thought might be a punishment, is quickly spreading through   social media because it is unique and fun.

As Tanghulu’s popularity grows, concerns about it are also growing. Experts warn that excessive sugar consumption can cause childhood diabetes and tooth decay, and that sugar is as addictive as nicotine. Tanghulu was said to have been summoned to a state inspection due to excessive sugar intake among teenagers. “But… isn’t Tanghulu eating fruit healthier?” But when her eldest daughter heard my story, she took Tang Hulu’s side. After hearing the counter-argument that Tanghulu is better than jelly, ice cream, or donuts, it seems like she is like that again. She eats fruit anyway.

Nevertheless, Tanghulu’s popularity shows no signs of cooling down. Countless new Tanghulu-related contents are still uploaded every day on SNS , such as Tanghulu eating shows and how to make Tanghulu without failure. From the pretty, colorful, sparkling visuals to the ‘cracking’ sound of the syrup coating breaking. Tanghulu, perfect for visuals and ASMR , is the optimal SNS item. Adults’ warnings about Tanghulu do not apply to children who are greatly influenced by  SNS . In fact, according to the Korea Consumer Agency, based on one skewer, strawberry Tanghulu contains 9.9g of sugar and black sapphire Tanghulu contains 24.7g of sugar. It is true that this is less than the approximately 28 to 107 g of sugar contained in a glass of smoothie sold at a cafe. Nevertheless, it may be unfair for Tanghulu to face social criticism as the biggest threat to children’s health. However, the idea that Tanghulu is better than other desserts is dangerous. Because Tanghulu is small in quantity, simple comparison is difficult. Be careful because if you eat more than one skewer, you may exceed the sugar intake recommended by the World Health Organization ( WHO) . In addition, the cavities-causing index is high, so there is no change to the fact that frequent consumption of Tanghulu is very fatal to cavities.

Doesn’t the problem lie with us who produce and consume Tanghulu indiscriminately? A world of sweet Tanghulu created by someone’s greed to take advantage of Tanghulu’s popularity. SNS posts posted by someone who consumes and flaunts this without much thought . In a world where there are so many temptations, children have no choice but to be shaken. 

The problem doesn’t end here. It is called ‘Tanghulu Hedgehog’, referring to the skewer that was thrown away after eating Tanghulu sticking out of the garbage bag. Sharp skewers threaten those who collect trash, and piles of skewers and paper cups carelessly discarded on the roadside create new trash problems. It is said that ‘NO Tanghulu Zone’ has appeared  because of the sticky Tanghulu-related trash , so in the end, the problem is not the Tanghulu itself, but someone eating Tanghulu. In fact, even children already know that Tanghulu and other high-calorie desserts are bad for their health. It’s just an inconvenient truth that I want to pretend not to know. I actively used  social media to touch on that part . SNS algorithms have the characteristic of continuously surfacing issues once searched. Previously, only Tanghulu mukbang was featured, but now Tanghulu’s problems are also featured. Simply touching the eyes and hearts of children like that is a success. 

There is a saying that too much is too little and too much is not as good as not enough. The same goes for Tanghulu and all other sweet desserts in the world. In the past, you had to go there to eat desserts and only on special occasions like birthdays, but now you can eat them anytime, anywhere. But can we just tell children not to eat it? From experience, it is obvious that doing so will only arouse the children’s resistance. We need a strategy to save our two daughters and our children from the sugar bomb.  Together with the children, we searched for the dangers of sugar, represented by Tanghulu, on our smartphones. There was a flood of articles and videos dealing with the problems mentioned above, such as obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. We shared content together and exchanged our thoughts. Obesity is the most powerful threat to children these days who hate gaining weight the most in the world. The children also agreed with my opinion that rather than simply saying ‘don’t eat’, if you want to eat delicious food for a long time, start controlling it from now on. Let’s have a sweet day instead of a cheat day.  Now that we have identified the problem, we also discussed solutions together with the children. While we were gathering opinions on what to do, our second daughter suggested that we make a sweet day instead of a cheat day. Oh, that’s good! I decided to eat healthy snacks like sweet potatoes and fruits 6 days a week and eat the snacks I wanted only on one sweet day. It’s already been about three months since we’ve been running Sweet Day like that. At first, I expected it to be very difficult, but surprisingly the six days passed quickly. The first sweet day has finally arrived! The children were excited just by eating the sweet dessert they had been holding back for so long. The taste was more delicious than I imagined. I experienced the best value for money because I could eat the same thing much more deliciously than before. On the other hand, there were cases where I was disappointed because some desserts were sweeter than I expected. A person’s ability to adapt is truly true. So, my family is practicing ‘keeping our distance’ so that we can enjoy delicious sugar for a long time. Actually, Tanghulu is not that bad to me. Rather, it is a grateful being that brings back good memories. When I see strawberry Tanghulu, Incheon Chinatown comes to mind first. Tanghulu, a tangerine, reminds me of a family trip to Jeju Island. Just as I still get excited whenever I see cotton candy as an adult, I hope that Tanghulu will remain as a sweet memory for children in the future as well. 

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