Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chapter Twenty-Five: Pepero Day

November 11th, in Korea, is a holiday that rivals any in America for commercialism. In fact, it's a holiday specifically started by candy companies. Seriously, it's not like all out American/Western holidays that were taken over by consumerism--it was created by people trying to profit from it. Gooooo, Pepero Day! (Above: my bounty)

On Pepero Day, you give pepero to your loved ones or anyone important in your life. Pepero is just like pocky, the Japanese candy. It is a crackery/pretzely stick dipped in chocolate. Occasionally, it's reversed with the chocolate on the inside. It is super-addictive. Sometimes there are nuts or sprinkles added to the outside. How could you go wrong with pepero? As you could see in the first picture, it is marketed like Valentine's Day. Often the packages have hearts and things like that on them. On the streets for the past week, I have seen many different types of chocolate sold in addition to pepero, but usually following the cookie+chocolate principle. This weekend, downtown was awash with little stands selling pepero day gift baskets which even had little teddy bears, ala Valentine's Day.

I recieved this super-special pepero from a kindergartener. Not only does it say "I Need You" on the wrapper...

It also has my name (a great attempt at spelling, I might add) in frosting on the huge pepero itself! Excellent! I got pepero from a few students as well as my bosses and Arthur.

Arthur gave me the special reverse pepero. "To: You, From: Me, Happy Pepero Day!" And that's how you would write pepero in hangul.

Want more explanation of Pepero Day? Let's turn to Tori's "essay" he wrote for me today (okay, the kid only had a few minutes, I didn't expect even this much).
People who make pepero day are sweet makers. Now, it's the most famous sweet holiday with valentine day and white day. If there are no pepero day I will die. In this day, people give eachocthe pepero.

He explained to me that on Valentine's Day girls give boys sweets but on White Day, boys give girls sweets (I think). There's also Black Day which involves some sort of Chinese noodle dish, but I'm not sure how relevant that was.

According to Wikipedia, the reason we celebrate Pepero Day on November 11th is that 11-11 symbolizes four sticks of pepero. More from wikipedia:
The holiday is observed mostly by young people and couples, who exchange Pepero sticks, other candies, and romantic gifts. Lotte denies starting the holiday and instead states that they noticed a bump in Pepero sales around November 11th and after continued popularity they decided to then encourage the holiday with special gift boxes and other promotions.[2] Some consider it to be a contrived holiday and some teachers have encouraged children to exchange healthy snacks to help combat obesity.

According to one story, Pepero Day was started in 1994 by students at a girls' middle school in Busan, where they exchanged Pepero sticks as gifts to wish one another to grow "as tall and slender as a Pepero".[6]

In Japan, a similar Pocky Day was started however it has failed to gain traction.

While pepero is officially made by Lotte (a company that pretty much owns Korean snack food and other commercial industries) there are lots of kinds of knock-off pepero, like the huge ones I got.

So there you have it. Another capitalistic holiday devoted to giving candy to loved ones. Nom nom nom.


  1. omg i just tried my first peperos today, and these are my favourite snack foods now :) <3<3<3

  2. wow im so jealous that you were in korea TT
    im about to make some and came across your blog hahaha
    hope you make some and celebrate it in the czech too!