When I first saw this, I thought the men were using the wooden mallets to soften some kind of tough dough. However, I showed the video to a student, and she told me that the men were making a type of confection. The mallets are used to soften a sugary mixture so that it can be shaped into a square block. Pieces are then cut from the block and sold to customers.
One of the great things about being an expat in east Asia is that I see stuff all the time that I have never seen in my home country. China, in particular, is a great place to go for experiencing new things. China is a rich mix of modernity, things still done the old way, and everything in between. However, China is changing rapidly, and things done the old way are becoming more and more rare. As each year goes by, more and more Chinese will reminisce about things by saying in their own tongue, “Remember when they used too…..” or “Remember when you used to be able to…”