Today is Pepero day!

What do chocolate-covered cookies in oblong shape have in common with schoolgirls? Or why do you become tall and slim when you eat chocolate-covered cookies in stick shape on 11/11?

4 mins read

When I recently went shopping in one of the large shopping malls, I discovered a large sales stand in the middle of the food department with many colorful, conspicuously packaged, treats. It was clear to me then that it won’t be long before they celebrate one of these many special holidays in Korea. Today is the day. On November 11, people all over Korea celebrate Pepero Day 빼빼로, when they give these special sweets to their friends. Pepero Day is not a holiday, but it was officially recognized as a special day in Korea in 1997.

Pepero is long, thin chocolate-covered cookie sticks. Every year, new varieties and flavors are introduced to the market. So in addition to the classic, Pepero, which is covered with regular chocolate (original), there are also varieties with almonds, green tea, peanut, Yakult yogurt to cheddar cheese. This year Pepero with Dalgona flavor is very trendy. Coincidence or hard-core calculation that currently Dalgona gained a revival through the Netflix series Squid Games?

The list of different flavors is getting longer every year. | Photographer Daniel Thomas Faller

But why does Pepero Day actually exist? There are different traditions. Some claim that schoolgirls in the Yeongnam region in the 1980s gave Pepro to each other in the hope that eating them would make them tall and slim. The consumption was supposed to be especially effective at 11:11 a.m. on November 11. It is said that there are even people who wait for the 11th second to achieve the best result.

Pocky are also sold in Korea. | Photographer Daniel Thomas Faller

Others claim that the shape of the Pepero resembles the numbers 1, respectively the 11.11. The real origin of the Pepero day is still unclear. The only thing that is certain is that retailers, above all LOTTE (one of the large Korean conglomerates), increase their sales by selling Pepero on November 11.

But one may also rightly ask whether Pepero Day is really a Korean “invention”. In Japan, Pocky Day is celebrated on November 11. There, similar chocolate-covered cookies in the shape of an elongated stick are given as gifts. Glico, a well-known Japanese company, launched Pocky in 1966. Lotte, however, did not sell Pepero in Korea until 1983, which is very similar to the snacks made in Japan. A copyright infringement lawsuit ensued. Lotte was allowed to continue producing its Pepero, and Japan officially recognized the Pocky in 1999.

Was haben mit Schokolade überzogene Kekse in länglicher Form mit Schulmädchen gemeinsam? Oder warum wird man gross und schlank, wenn man am 11.11. mit Schokolade überzogene Kekse in Stick Form isst?
On most Pepero packages there is a short saying: 1. 너에게 하고 싶은 말 – words I want to say to you. 2. |마음 전하고 싶어요 – I want to give you my heart. 3. 오늘 감사했어요 – Thank you for today. 4. 사실 하고 싶은 말이 있는데 – There is something I want to say. 5. 좋아해요 – I like you.

Although Pepero Day (much like Valentine’s Day) has become very commercialized in recent years, it brings a little happiness and warmth to an otherwise stressful and hectic Korean workday…

Daniel Thomas Faller

SEOUL | Korea

Daniel is the founder of Schauplatz Korea Magazine, editor-in-chief and creative director. He is a Swiss native and Korea lover based in Seoul. Daniel is interested in people’s stories and projects and passionate about visual art and photography. And he likes to be seduced by Makgeolli…

4 Comments

  1. I’ve been thinking of Pepero Day as a natural day since I was young, and it’s so fun to talk about Pepero like this. There was someone waiting until 11 minutes and 11 seconds on November 11, and it was so fun to hear that Japan released Forky first. I think it’s Lotte’s strategy, but Pepero Day, which warms each other’s hearts by exchanging Pepero, is good! I hope you have a happy Pepero Day, too.

  2. I forgot that today was Pepero Day! Thanks to you, I’m happy to know. As I got older, I was getting used to the anniversaries, but I got to reminisce about my childhood. I hope you all have a good Pepero Day. 😀

  3. Thanks for this interesting and great article😉
    Although, we are aware that this event is mainly marketing, we cannot deny that this idea is “brillant”.
    Even aware of all of these, I can’t prevent from getting caught and buy my pepero pack every year🤣

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