Have you ever heard of Pepero Day? You may have encountered this snack, but there’s actually a day to celebrate this in South Korea. This day also happens to be the biggest shopping day globally because of Singles’ Day, which China popularized.
While the rest of the world is celebrating single people and shopping, Koreans likes to celebrate Pepero Day (빼빼로 데이 in Korean) on November 11th.
What is Pepero Day?
Pepero Day in South Korea is an annual tradition that can be likened to Valentine’s Day, as it is usually celebrated among couples, and food or chocolatey treats are exchanged. On this day, however, the treat exchanged is specifically the snack Pepero. Although Valentine’s Day is also celebrated in South Korea, Pepero and Pepero Day is an equally beloved holiday to enjoy.
When is Pepero Day?
Pepero Day is annually celebrated on November 11th. This isn’t just a random date, as November 11 was chosen specifically because 11/11 looks like Pepero sticks! Along with that is the idea that to become tall and slender like the thin Pepero stick, 11 packets of Pepero must be eaten on November 11, at 11:11 am and 11:11 pm in exactly 11 seconds. There’s nothing to lose if you’ll give it a try!
What is Pocky Day?
There is also an incredibly similar holiday in Japan and celebrated on November 11th, called Pocky Day. This is also often called Pocky and Pretz Day, with Pretz being the savory counterpart of Pocky. On this day, annual sales for Pocky would surge as there are plenty of Pocky-related activities and marketing strategies put in place. Japanese people would also give Pocky to their loved ones as a gift to show their appreciation.
To sum it up, November 11 is a day of many celebrations! There’s the national Pocky Day in Japan, the Pepero Day in Korea, and Singles Day in China.
Is Pepero Day Single Day?
Pepero Day is an unofficial holiday that everyone can celebrate in South Korea, regardless of one’s relationship status. Coincidentally, this holiday is celebrated on the same day as Singles’ Day in China. However, these are not the same holidays and are also celebrated differently. Singles’ Day or 11/11 Day in China is a day dedicated to shopping for people not in a relationship or singles.
What exactly is Pepero?
Peperos are tall and thin biscuit-like sticks covered in chocolate. Lotte Confectionery Corporation manufactured this product in South Korea. Besides the original milk chocolate flavor, many other flavors have also emerged for these biscuit sticks, and each new year another one seems to pop up. Some popular Pepero flavors are the following: almond, green tea, cookies & cream, white chocolate, and dark chocolate.
If you prefer other Pepero flavors, they also have blueberry yogurt and strawberry almond. Even different flavors like tiramisu cheese and cheddar cheese exist for Pepero now! Not all pepero sticks are coated with chocolate or some other flavor. Some peperos have chocolate filling instead of a coating, some have two different coating flavors, and other peperos are “super-sized.” Shortly put, there is a pepero to love for everyone in the world!
Pepero vs Pocky
As described above, Peperos are famous snacks in South Korea which are chocolate-covered, thin cookie sticks. If you already have a picture in mind, it won’t be difficult to imagine what a Pocky looks like. You can definitely notice the resemblance between Pepero and Pocky as they are identical cookie stick treats. However, one brand is made in South Korea and the other in Japan.
Pocky rose to fame in Japan in 1966 as a “snack with a handle” produced by the company Ezaki Glico. It can be considered as Pepero’s foreign relative from Japan. Pocky was invented before Pepero, so one could raise whether Pepero is a copy of Pocky. Similarly, Pepero Day was first to become a commercial holiday to celebrate, and Pocky Day became a holiday on the same day in Japan a little later.
What is the history of Pepero Day in South Korea?
The exact origins of Pepero Day in Korea and how it started are not entirely known. One theory is that Pepero Day in Korea is celebrated on November 11th because of the appearance of a Pepero stick, looking like the number 1. Another is that it was popularized by two Korean middle school girls who exchanged Pepero sticks with each other. They did so in hopes of becoming tall and thin, just like how the Pepero snacks look like.
The aforementioned school story is how Lotte Corporation, the manufacturer of Pepero in South Korea, began advertising Pepero Day in 1997. And successfully so, as from 2012 onward they make 50% of their whole year’s pepero sales on Pepero Day! If you want to follow the possible origin story and celebrate Pepero Day yourself, then you ought to eat 11 boxes of pepero on that day!
How is Pepero Day in Korea celebrated?
In observance of Pepero Day in South Korea, people celebrate it by giving Pepero boxes as gifts every November 11th. Think of it as Valentine’s Day for everyone! They are typically exchanged between couples, but people can generally give them to people they love, like their friends, co-workers, or family members, as a symbol of their affection. The price won’t be a concern since it’s such a cheap snack that the barrier to purchasing a box or two for someone is low, even outside of the circle of loved ones.
Pepero Day ideas for a gift
Apart from exchanging boxes of these chocolate-covered snacks with your friends and loved ones, there are other ways of giving gifts for Pepero Day. This is especially common among couples. Instead of buying a regular box of Pepero for each other, many will purchase other things like special gift baskets on sale during the Pepero Day holiday.
It’s very easy to find a place that sells Pepero, like department stores or convenience stores especially during Pepero day. If you want to set yourself apart, you can give something apart from the actual Pepero snack. Some people are also extra creative and even prepare the Peperos by hand!
You can also find Pepero cushions to give as gifts, among other varieties of gifts that are appropriate to give on Pepero Day. If you are in South Korea, you may even expect to receive coupons you can use to purchase boxes of Pepero from your friends on Kakaotalk.
But what if your loved one doesn’t like sweets? The perfect solution for that is the 돈 빼빼로 (donppaeppaero)! This is a popular gift idea that was inspired by the Pepero snack. You need to roll up some paper bills to make it look like Pepero sticks. Then put these rolled-up bills in a rectangular box similar to that of a Pepero’s. The finished product would then be the “Money Pepero.”
A Pepero for yourself
While it’s fun to have someone to exchange or give gifts to, it’s also nice to give one to yourself! Treat yourself to tons of delicious Pepero, in various flavors, from nude pepero to double-coated ones. Or, if you want, perhaps find a Korean to treat to Pepero on November 11th to have a feel of one of Korea’s traditions! It doesn’t have to be a Valentine’s Day-like exchange, just a show of friendship or appreciation.
How do you say Happy Pepero Day?
If you want to greet someone “Happy Pepero Day,” you can say it as 빼빼로데이 축하해요! (ppaeppaerodei chukahaeyo!) in Korean. Pepero Day is a celebration; thus, it’s just right to greet one another on this special day. You can also write this down on a note that comes with your Pepero gift. You can master how to write this correctly in Hangeul by learning the Korean alphabet.
What is the Pepero Game?
Another fun way to enjoy your Pepero is through the Pepero game. This game is played in pairs where each pair need to eat a Pepero together, biting it off from each end. The pair with the shortest piece left wins. If you’re having a hard time imagining how it is played, think of the scene with the spaghetti in the movie Lady and the Tramp. This game is also often played in Korean variety shows. You might have also seen this portrayed in some Korean movies or dramas.
Have you ever tried eating Pepero? Now that you know all about this delicious cookie stick snack in South Korea and also about how to celebrate Pepero Day on November 11th, you’re all prepared for when the day arrives! Are you excited to experience your first Pepero Day from reading this article? Which pepero flavor do you intend to try first once you’re in South Korea? You may also want to know about the other unique holidays in South Korea like White Day and Black Day next!