On November 11th, South Korea celebrates Pepero Day, a holiday similar to Valentine’s day. While the exact origins of the day are unclear, it’s been an official celebration in South Korea since 1983.
Like Valentine’s day, this is a day when people exchange gifts or tokens to express love and fondness. However, the traditional Pepero Day gift is not hearts or flowers: it is the Pepero snack.
Manufactured by Lotte Confectionery, Pepero is a famous snack in South Korea. It’s basically a cookie stick dipped in different flavored toppings. The original Pepero snack is dipped in compound chocolate.
Pepero snacks have gained a lot of cultural significance in South Korea. On Pepero Day, the practice of giving someone a Pepero is meant to strengthen relationships.
If you’re interested in Pepero Day, here are all the things people do on the holiday:
Listen to the Stories Behind Pepero Day
How did Pepero Day originate? Well, multiple urban legends are surrounding this. Firstly, some people say Pepero Day is celebrated on November, 11th because of the cookie’s shape.
Pepero looks like the number ‘1’. When two people exchange Pepero, the ‘1’ doubles, becoming ‘11’. Consequently, the date, ‘November 11th’, becomes significant because it symbolizes an exchange between two loved ones.
Secondly, there’s the story of the two middle school girls. Apparently, in the early 1980s, two girls in Yeongnam exchanged Pepero sticks because they thought it would make them ‘thinner’. The story became popular in the news media, beginning a trend.
However, over time, exchanging Pepero sticks became known as a symbol of love. High school students would give the cookie sticks to their girlfriend/boyfriend. In this way, the day became associated with Valentine’s day.
Choose Pepero From Over 15 Different Flavors
On Pepero Day, grocery stores everywhere are stacked to the brim with Pepero snacks. Over the years, Lotte Confectionery has developed a wide range of flavors. Chocolate is, of course, still highly popular.
However, you can enjoy many new and unique flavors. You have around 15 choices. For example, you can choose from the classic trio: chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla. Alternatively, you can opt for coffee, tiramisu, blueberry yogurt, and nude green tea.
‘Nude’ is a very popular flavor. The original Pepero is a biscuit with a chocolate coating. The Nude-flavored Peperos are reversed with crushed biscuits coating milk chocolate.
Don’t confuse Pepero with Pocky, though.
Pocky is also a cookie snack, similar to Pepero. However, it is manufactured in Japan, not Korea.
Show Appreciation To Loved Ones
As mentioned, Pepero Day has become an opportunity to show appreciation to loved ones. This doesn’t strictly include romantic partners. You can show appreciation to whoever you want.
For example, children can exchange Peperos with their teachers, parents, and schoolmates. Teenagers and young adults exchange Peperos with friends, families, and significant others.
Those exchanging it with girlfriends or boyfriends prefer the original chocolate flavor because it’s most associated with new beginnings. People also use these Peperos to confess to someone.
Consequently, all Pepero packages come with cute bows and ribbons. It makes gift-exchanges more convenient.
Play Pepero Day Games
You can also play Pepero-themed games on the day. One very popular game is ‘Pepero Kiss’. How does it work?
Firstly, you need at least two teams of two players each. Secondly, you need to buy a Pepero. (Make sure both you and your partner like the flavor.) The objective is to eat the Pepero Lady-and-the-Tramp style.
However, you’re not allowed to finish all of it. The trick is to make the stick as short as possible without touching lips.
If you have the shortest end or if the other team’s lips touch, you win.
There are many more games. You can either look them up or have locals explain it to you.
Make DIY Pepero at Home
Lastly, not everyone likes to buy Pepero. Consequently, you can try to make Pepero at home. Simply, use a basic sugar cookie recipe. However, instead of rolling the cookie into a circle, shape it like a Pepero.
You can customize the recipe and dips to your liking. For example, instead of a chocolate coating, you can add honey or syrup.
Moreover, if you or your SO doesn’t like Pepero, you can make a non-edible version. Some people wad up money into the shape of a Pepero to give to their loved ones.
In sum, Pepero Day is something you can celebrate in and out of South Korea. However, tourists love visiting the country during the Pepero Day celebrations. The atmosphere seems more romantic and lively, especially if you’re visiting Seoul.
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