November 11, is a big day in South Korea, it’s Pepero Day.
Pepero is a thin biscuit stick dipped in chocolate that was released into the South Korean market, by its makers Lotte, in the late part of last century. From September through November, every year, Pepero biscuits become the center of attention in all the shops. Each convenience store, supermarket, and mall seems to compete to create the most impressive Pepero display.
Lotte claim they did not invent Pepero Day. Koo Ja-ryung, the branding manager of Pepero said “Actually, we didn’t start Pepero day. The theory says it started when some middle school girls started exchanging the snack with the wish that they would become “as tall and slender as a Pepero.
Another suggestion is that Pepero sticks lend themselves to creativity – 11/11 is easy to duplicate with the biscuits. Whatever its origins, there is no doubt that Lotte have done well out of their biscuit because everyone gives Pepero on Pepero Day.
Teachers get them from students and parents alike. Teachers also dish them out by the basketful to their students and colleges. Students give them to each other. I used to receive them from my local convenience store owners and other shops I frequented. Couples have a Pepero Day market all of their own. Huge hearts made up of boxes of Pepero make an impressive gift for your loved one. I still find it cute to see the young lovers in the local coffee shops sharing a Pepero. They take one end each in their mouths, nibble to the middle, and end with a kiss. The day is about expressing your affections, respect and esteem for others, whether lover of mentor.
The day has now also become a boon for many bakeries and specialty food places. Gourmet Pepero is on the increase. It can be purchased as a huge stick smothered in chocolate and decorated with anything from simple nuts, fruit, and sesame seeds to elaborate and ornately icing piped personal messages. Or as small, elegant sticks that would grace any ladies table. Some of them are so exquisitely beautiful the never get eaten, you keep looking at them in wonder until one day you realise they are just gathering inordinate amounts of dust and there is no way you can eat something that has been lying around for months!
I loved Pepero Day – I miss Pepero Day! I would wander home from work with a bulging bags full of chocolaty treats. The bigger your haul the bigger your value is what my Korean colleges would tell me. Yes, they did compete to see who got the most and you were required to display your haul before you left for the day. I always found this just a little embarrassing because as the only foreign teacher it was a given that I would get oodles. Secretly, of course, I was always just a little tickled at just how big my haul way. Having consumed far more than is good for anyone during the day I was never tempted to eat any of this treasure that night. I might dip in on the following weekend but I usually just took them back to school in the following few weeks and shared them out with my students. I would have been the size of a house if I had not done this.
I wonder if you can get Pepero in Yuzhno? …