by REERA YOO
Today is Nov. 11, meaning it’s Pepero Day! For our readers who are unfamiliar with Pepero Day, it’s an unofficial holiday similar to Valentine’s Day observed in South Korea and is celebrated by exchanging boxes of the chocolate-covered cookie snack with friends, co-workers and lovers.
Here are five fun facts about the holiday:
1. Origin Story: “I want to be tall and skinny like a Pepero”
Photo courtesy of jixtina0108 via Instagram
While the exact origins of Pepero Day are unknown, they are usually traced back to a 1983 tale of two female middle school students sharing a box of Peperos in hopes of becoming tall and thin. The two girls reportedly claimed that eating Pepero sticks on Nov. 11 at 11:11 A.M in exactly 11 seconds would make a person tall and slender, sparking a fad among schoolgirls in the Yongnam Area and skyrocketing sales.
Many South Koreans, however, are skeptical of this story and argue that the holiday date originated due to the snack’s shape resembling 1’s. Others claim that Lotte, the manufacturer of Pepero, invented the holiday as a marketing tool, but the confectionary company has repeatedly denied this allegation.
2. Pepero’s nine flavors
According to Lotte’s official website, Peperos are currently sold in nine different flavors: chocolate, strawberry, almond, peanut, white cookie chocolate, melon, nude (chocolate in the center), nude tiramisu cheese, and nude lemon cheese.
3. Premium Pepero Gift Sets
Every year it seems like Pepero Day packages become more extravagant. While a basic box can cost as little as 800 won (about 75 cents), premium gift baskets, which sometimes include plush animals, can go up to 55,000 won ($50). Grocery and stationary stores usually deck their aisles with colorful and impressive displays on the week of Pepero Day.
Photo courtesy of littleredstreethouse
4. D.I.Y Pepero
Since premium gift sets are expensive and often don’t taste very good, a popular trend among young students is to make homemade Peperos. South Korean department stores sell cute chocolate molds and icing supplies for low prices, making it very easy to decorate personalized Pepero sticks. Some decorators choose to go all out and make a Pepero cake.
5. Pepero Alternatives
There are two alternatives to celebrating Pepero Day for those who aren’t fond of the biscuit snack. Since Garaetteok Day, a holiday that commemorates Korean farmers, is also observed on Nov. 11, some Koreans choose to gift their loved ones garatteok, white rice cake, over a box of sweets.
Another alternative is packaging rolled up money in Pepero boxes, a trend that’s quickly becoming popular among older couples and husbands who don’t want to be seen carrying extravagant premium Pepero gift packages.
However you decide to celebrate (or not celebrate) this yummy holiday, we wish you a Happy Pepero Day!
Featured photo courtesy of Kstargoods.