Happy Pepero Day!

Annyong Haseo! Lindsay here.

Today is a holiday here in Korea: Pepero Day. So what is Pepero? It’s a yummy chocolate-covered biscuit stick swapped like valentines. It’s a holiday celebrated across the country every Nov. 11, an apt date for the candy that looks like slender number ones.

The holiday is similar to Valentine’s Day in the United Sates. It’s named after the Korean snack Pepero, made by the grocery giant Lotte, and is mostly observed by young people and couples, who exchange Pepero sticks, candies or gifts.

According to one story I found online, Pepero Day was started in 1994 at a girls’ middle school in Busan, Korea, where some students exhanged the candy sticks to wish one another to grow “as tall and slender as a Pepero.”

But I think Pepero Day is probably just one of the most brillant marketing tools ever invented–similar to what people like to call Hallmark Day in America. Lotte now makes who knows how many millions off the little red boxes of chocolate sticks.

As we walked through the crowded streets of downtown Gwangju Saturday night, stalls of Pepero products popped up on every block. And discarded candy boxes littered every street corner.

Whit and I have definitely had our share of Pepero Day. We ate so many on Friday that I couldn’t stomach one more little stick of chocolate. In fact, I left a box of them at school for Monday. We each had several students bring us boxes of the holiday treat. One of Whit’s was even wrapped in pretty paper. And one of mine had my name on it like a sweet little valentine.

We hear we will get even more of them tomorrow, since the holiday fell on a Sunday this year. And this isn’t the only candy-centered holiday in Korea. In March, we are told we will celebrate “White Day,” where white candy is swapped like valentines.

I’m not complaining though, and each time I eat a chocolate covered stick, I too wish I can be as tall and slender as Pepero.