Today, my friends, is a very important and monumental holiday in Korea. It is Pepero day (빼빼로 데이). What is Pepero? Think of it like Korean pocky. It’s like a biscuity-stick that is either covered in chocolate, covered in chocolate and nuts, or filled with chocolate. It’s delicious. According to wikipedia it comes in 10 different flavors – “Regular or Chocolate” (the one sitting on my desk right now); “Strawberry-flavored;” “Almond Chocolate;” “Nude” (chocolate in the center – the one I was given two sticks of earlier); “Nude Lemon Cheese” (one I have never seen nor do I think I want to taste… o.O); “Cocoa;” “Soft” (?); “Cheese;” “Woman in White” and “Man in Black” which again, accoriding to Wikipedia, are “classy” brands of Pepero, and both have chocolate cookie bits scattered throughout the chocolate dip; and last “Topic” which is a style similar to Japanese Toppo.
Korea is well-known for it’s couples holidays, and Pepero day is the first major one that I’ve observed. As I’m currently at school and not much is different but I’m sure if I was in an area with more young people/in a department store I would be able to tell more. Pepero day is somewhat similar to Valentine’s Day, except more blatantly commercial. On Pepero day (November 11, since the date “11/11″ resembles four sticks of Pepero) young people and couples give each other Pepero sticks, other candies, and gifts.
Some people say that Pepero Day was started by girls at a middle school in Busan in 1994. They gave each other Pepero sticks as gifts to inspire the girls to develop the figure of a pepero stick, so basically “here’s this cracker stick dipped in chocolate, eat it and then try to look like this stick.”
Pepero is ONLY manufactured by Lotte Confectionery which means that as Pepero day is a holiday, it is in effect a monopolized holiday. Lotte usually does about 55% of their Pepero business in November every year. There is some speculation as to whether or not Lotte actually started the holiday as a method to increase sales of Pepero but Lotte denies this, merely stating that when it saw a spike in its sales in Novemember (that it had nothing to do with) it decided to take advantage of this and start advertising.
It’s such a weird holiday, and not all Koreans seem to like it or even understand why it is around. Some seem to think that it’s really romantic, stating that “if you give a package of Pepero to someone on Nov. 11 at 11 minutes past 11 o’clock your love will last forever” whereas others confess that they don’t care about the holiday, they just buy Pepero for their significant others so that they don’t end up in the doghouse.
I can’t help but like Pepero Day. It’s like Valentine’s Day but instead of making Valentines, expressing love, etc, this is either about giving candy to someone so that they’ll be your true love forever, or trying to support your friends’ desire to lose weight and look like a stick by giving them candy. What’s not to like?