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Budding romance with Pepero

Pepero is a chocolate covered breadstick created by the South Korean company, Lotte. It can be seen as a Korean version of the Japanese Pocky sticks from the company, Glico. Picture by Joe Loong from Flickr.

by Kay Kim, staff reporter

As a pair of lips inch in closer and closer, the audience builds up more and more excitement. One partner draws closer to the other partner, eating away the stick of Pepero between them. This is the very popular South Korean game, the Pepero game.

Pepero is a chocolate covered breadstick created by the South Korean company, Lotte. It can be seen as a Korean version of the Japanese Pocky sticks from the company, Glico.

The objective of the Pepero game is to have the shortest stick of Pepero remaining, without using any hands. It is played by a male and female holding the opposite ends of a single Pepero with their mouths. Then, one partner has to move closer to the other partner by eating the Pepero. The couple with the shortest stick of Pepero remaining is crowned the winner.

In Korea, November 11th is celebrated as Pepero Day, which is a national day to gift Pepero. It is similar to Valentine’s Day, when couples give each other sweets. The only difference from Valentine’s Day, is that Pepero take the place of chocolates and candies.

It is said that over 60% of Lotte’s annual Pepero sales come from this day.

General Pepero sales on November 11th are significantly greater than other days. Pepero sold on the remaining days of the year make up 23% of the the profit. 14% of its sales come from other Korean holidays. The remaining percentage (63%) makes up the sales on the day of Pepero Day.

Besides buying Pepero, there are some people who prefer to make homemade Pepero. They buy thin, plain breadsticks and cover them in melted chocolate. The breadsticks are then put into the freezer, to harden the chocolate.

There are Pepero making kits and molds to help keep the shape of the chocolate. They can also be used to create separate chocolate molds that can later be added as decoration to the hardened Pepero.

Those who do not have the kit have even created their own alternative of a Pepero, using items that are easy to find in all grocery stores.

“I sort of make my own Pepero, but it isn’t really a Pepero. I get pretzel sticks and dip it in chocolate,” freshman Rosellen Park said.

Starting from the first emergence of the original chocolate Pepero, in 1983, Lotte came up with many different flavors and designs. However, sales for some of the flavors have been discontinued over the years.

The flavors that are continued being sold today include the original Pepero, almond, strawberry, peanut, black, lemon cheese, hami melon, white cookie, blueberry yogurt, and flaked chocolate cookie. The types of Pepero include nude, original, double dip and skinny.

Discontinued flavors are cheese, flake, hazel, bulgogi (Korean marinated meat), cacao, and peanut cream. However, the flake Pepero was remade as the flaked chocolate cookie, earlier this year.

“The chocolate covered one with almond sprinkled on it is my favorite. I like the crunchiness. With the spread of modern Korean traditions, people that enjoy K-Pop and Korean culture may celebrate it [Pepero Day] because they can come closer to our celebrations,” seventh grader Cristine Oh said.

It is unknown how Pepero Day came to be. There are many stories that try to explain the origin of this day. One story says that two girls exchanged Pepero in hopes to get slimmer and taller, which is similar to the physical appearance of a Pepero. Another story guesses that this day originated because the number 1’s in November 11 (11/11) look like the Pepero sticks.

Despite all the assumptions, the one certain thing about Pepero Day’s recent tradition is that it is a day to show affection.

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