Con Poulos/The New York Times

November 11, 2021

Stir Your Crushes’ Palate on 11/11: Celebrate Pepero and Pocky Day With a Personality

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Did you know that Koreans and Japanese gift stick biscuits on Nov. 11 to show affection? Pepero and Pocky, two rod-shaped biscuits, are widely consumed on this day due to their resemblance to the number one. Over the past two decades, Pepero Day and Pocky Day have gradually evolved from pure marketing campaigns to national Valentine’s Days. With the happening of these two special days today, I will introduce a brief history of Pepero, followed by a guide to choosing the right flavor for your special one, and then do the same for Pocky day.

A Short History of Pepero Day

Pepero Day (빼빼로 데이) is possibly bigger than Valentine’s Day in Korea. A chocolate-coated stick biscuit, Pepero is one of the best-sellers at Lotte, a Korean and Asian supermarket chain and conglomerate. Korea Times reported that around 65 percent of Pepero’s sales occur thirty days before and after Pepero Day, showing how important Pepero Day is to Koreans. The origin of Pepero Day is not officially documented, yet Lotte’s large-scale marketing of Pepero Day began in 1997.

Picking the Proper Pepero Flavor for Your Special One

  1. Almond and Chocolate — For Partners Who Bite:

Got a flirty partner who wants to eat you (figuratively, of course)? Now is your chance to defend with Almond and Chocolate Pepero. Here is why: Based on a study at Yale University, some people display mild aggression as a response to an overwhelming presence of cute stimuli. To put it simply, your partner finds you too cute to handle — they bite you to fake dominance in the power dynamics of love. Bridging back to our reasoning for this Pepero flavor, the crunchiness of Almond and Chocolate symbolizes your partner’s flirtation. Next time your partner bites, feed them a stick of Almond and Chocolate Pepero, and hopefully that will satisfy their odd instinct. 

  1. Yakult — For Diligent High-Achievers:

Perseverance is often seen in those who love acidic foods and drinks like Yakult. Yakult, a probiotic yogurt drink, is widely consumed in Korea despite its Japanese origin. Its remarkable presence in the Korean food industry can be explained by the historic effort of Yakult ajummas (Yakult middle-aged ladies). In the 1970s, the Korean equivalent of Yakult hired middle-aged ladies to sell Yakult from door to door. The Yakult ajummas would bear criticism for selling “germs,” carrying a cart of Yakults and ice around the city. Until today, the heritages of Yakult ajummas were still found in Korea. If you want to honor your loved one’s work-ethic, why not gift a Yakult Pepero and share the overlooked history of Yakult ajummas?

  1. Cookies and Cream – For Feisty Hedonists

Fans of Cookies and Cream are generally playful. To them, enjoying the warm, floral sensations of vanilla just ain’t enough — the experience is only complete with the decoration of cookies. If your loved one is a leader, hunts for the best milkshakes or brings you to the most picturesque spots, Cookies and Cream Pepero has to be the perfect gift. 

A Short History of Pocky Day

The scale of Pocky Day (ポッキーの日) is comparable to Pepero Day. Created by Glico in 1966, Pocky has always been loved by Japanese across all age groups. The classic Pocky flavor is plain biscuit sticks covered by a layer of chocolate. Pocky Day has been Glico’s largest marketing campaign since 1999, featuring photo contests, lucky draws, community services and many nation wide events. In 2013, Glico achieved a Guiness World Record of “Most mentions of a brand name on Twitter in 24 hours” with 3,710,044 Twitter mentions. This year’s theme is defined as “Pocky With Your Significant One,” urging everyone to take time and bond with their friends and family. 

Picking the Pocky Flavor For Your Special One

  1. Matcha — For Calm Scholars:

People who seem smart and chill deserve a matcha treat. Matcha has been hugely popularized to the point where you can find matcha flavoured snacks of almost everything. Often consumed by Chadou (Japanese tea ceremony) practitioners, premium matcha is defined by its subtly bitter aftertaste. Matcha is proven to boost your attention and memory due to its L-theanine and caffeine content. People who spend time looking at its green color also experience less mood swings and stress. If your significant other is an intellectual, seemingly calm person that you rely on, matcha is the perfect flavor to gift.

  1. Mint Chocolate — For YOLO Believers:

Mint Chocolate, a harmony of herbal chills and toasty taste, is perfect for those who live their lives to the fullest. Mint chocolate lovers seek unique experiences, just like how they enjoy the chilly sensation of mint. Constantly on the hunt for adventures, they never forget to neutralize icy moments in life with a hint of sweetness. Is your crush an entrepreneurial person? Maybe mint chocolate is the right flavor for them.

  1. Strawberry — For Affectionate Sweethearts:

Strawberry Pocky is for the loving individuals who can never hide their affection. Characterized by a vibrant pink, strawberry is often the quick snack you want to treat yourself to after a long day of classes. To spice up the mood, eat a Pocky stick together with your babe from both ends. You’re welcome.

Final Words

Whether it’s for friends, family or a romantic partner, showing them affection with a small gift like Pepero or Pocky will be surely appreciated. Afterall, expressing love and support has never been more important in the post-pandemic world. Feeling inspired to get a personalized Pepero or Pocky gift? Don’t think. Gift now!

Reika Nakagawa is a freshman in the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She can be reached at [email protected].