Happy Pepero Day, y’all!
Pepero, a cookie stick dipped in chocolate that is massively popular over here in Korea, officially has its own holiday.
11/11 marks the day where children and young couples throughout the country trade the sugary goodness with the ones they love. The observance is quite like Valentine’s Day — just look at the display of Pepero-like products in GS Mart — which is nothing to the display in E-Mart.
Apparently the four 1s in the date are made to look like the long, thin candies.
Rumor has it, the holiday was started in 1994 by a group of middle-school girls in Busan, where they exchanged Pepero sticks at 11:11 (even more 1s) to wish each other “grow as tall and slender as a Pepero” … all the while wishing just they would grow tall and slender while their friends stayed fat and short. Okay, so I made the last part up, but girls in Korea do have a thing about being skinny, and every girl knows that the best way to look skinny is to hang around people that are, well, not so skinny.
You know it had to be somewhere in one of their minds — these are 13-year-olds, for goodness sakes. Some of my students have actually been forbidden to exchange candy sticks with their friends at elementary school to discourage unhealthy snacking. They have concluded that tteok (rice cakes) be handed out instead, although I’m not so sure how that will fare with the sugar-starved kiddies.
There is also speculation that the holiday was invented by Lotte, the Korean mega-brand behind Pepero. The company obviously denies it, but doesn’t see any harm in creating ridiculous gift packages that encourage young people to keep enthusiastically buy, buy, buying!
Our students showered us with the sweets today, giving us Pepero in every color, shape and size. We returned the favor, handing out boxes of the snacks that we received to our classes.
I gave my sweetheart a Hello Kitty Pepero pack (because who doesn’t love HK?) and he gave me my own chocolatey goodness, wrapped up in a green bow.
After gorging myself on waaaaay too many candy sticks today, Evan and I continued the gluttony by skipping the gym and heading to Pizza Maru instead. A pie and Wednesday night TV is a lot more fun than weights and a treadmill, I’ll tell you that much!
To all my loved ones on this contrived holiday — many hugs, kisses and chocolate sweets <3