Batter is dumped into a diesel engine and a long tube of popcorn stick, mihuagun, comes out like toothpaste. I have no idea how this machine works, but I thought it was pretty cool none the less.
They call it mihuagun, which means popcorn stick, or laoshi baomihua, which means old fashioned popcorn. It’s essentially just corn, sugar, and flavorings mixed together, dumped into a machine, and squirted out in stick form.
I came across a group of street food vendors who were making mihuagun in Hangzhou a couple of months ago. They had an incredible operation going in a public square, which included a three-wheeled motorcycle that had a large diesel engine in its bed. A man fed a constant stream of batter into a funnel, where it was churned and cooked by the engine, and then, in a matter of moments, was pushed out through a circular opening as a long, crispy stick — kind of like squeezing toothpaste. As it came out, the worker would cut the stick into portion sizes, which would fall into a tub to cool.
As they worked, a crowd gathered around. Some were actually buying the popcorn sticks, while others, like myself, seemed to just be fascinated by the strange machine that turned batter into mihuagun.
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