Get ready to learn all about one of my favourite holidays in Korea, the delicious Pepero Day. What is Pepero Day? It’s a whole day dedicated to sharing and stuffing your face with Korea’s popular biscuit-based snack, Pepero. Pepero Day in Korea is celebrated nationwide on November 11th, or 11/11, a date which is said to resemble four Pepero sticks standing upright.
But why is there a whole day dedicated to a simple snack like Pepero in Korea? And isn’t there a snack-based holiday in Japan with a suspiciously similar snack? Yes, there is. And in this article I’m going to share the dark and delicious story about this seemingly innocuous snack.
Follow me on a tasty trip as we discover all about the world of Pepero and Pepero Day in Korea, including what Pepero actually are, how Pepero Day got started, how this unofficial holiday hides a sinister rivalry with a close neighbour, and a fun Pepero-based game to play with your loved ones.
Affiliate Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links and I may earn commission for purchases made after clicking these links.
What Is Pepero Day In Korea?
If you’re reading this article on November 11th, then I hope you have a very happy Pepero Day!
On November 11th, 2024, Koreans up and down the country indulge in the most delicious, chocolatey holiday in Korea. That’s because November 11th is Pepero Day in Korea – a day when Koreans (and I) indulge in chocolate-covered sticks that (apparently) make you slim.
Pepero Day (빼빼로 데이) is a day when friends, colleagues, and lovers gift boxes of Pepero to each other as a way to express their friendship or love for the other person. The holiday could be described as a crossover between Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Friendship Day, but with more chocolate.
Whilst Pepero Day is a gift giving holiday, there’s also plenty of self-indulgence going on. It could be considered a singles holiday as well, as people can buy Pepero for themselves to enjoy. I freely admit to buying several boxes of Pepero before and after Pepero Day each year. Why not?
This holiday started in the late 1990’s and Pepero Day celebrations continue to grow each year. Pepero Day should not be mistaken for Pocky Day, which is a very similar holiday in Japan that is based on an extremely similar chocolate-coated snack. Both Pepero Day in Korea and Pocky Day in Japan are on November 11th. Is that a coincidence? I’ll explain more about this hot topic later on.
Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.
What Are Pepero?
What exactly are Pepero?
Pepero are basically chocolate-covered thin biscuit sticks that you can nibble slowly, dunk into a coffee, use to poke your friends, or stick in your mouth to pretend to be a vampire. A single box of Pepero costs between ₩1,500 and ₩1,700, with giant-sized Pepero costing more.
Pepero are very versatile and fun and come in an increasing number of different flavours and styles. Every year there seems to be new Pepero coming out that offer different tastes, shapes, and sizes to the original Pepero.
Pepero are sold in convenience stores, supermarkets, and shops across Korea and during the build-up to Pepero Day on November 11th, you can see displays of Pepero outside shops to draw people in to buy them.
Different Types And Flavour Of Pepero In Korea
Pepero are versatile and fun and come in a range of interesting flavours and styles. The three main Pepero flavours are original (chocolate), almond, and white (chocolate) cookie. Every year there seems to be new Pepero that offer different tastes, shapes, and sizes to the original tall, thin Pepero.
Here’s some of the different flavours of Pepero you can try in Korea. There are more flavours than just those below with new ones coming out each year. The most common ones are in the left hand column while the more unique ones are in the right hand column.
|peanuts & pretzels
|white chocolate cookie
|black chocolate cookie
One flavour of Pepero that I really enjoy is the dalgona flavour Pepero (pictured below). Dalgona shot to global fame (notoriety) thanks to Netflix’s Squid Game. Other unusual Pepero flavours that you can find in Korea include nude-cream cheese, rice-style popping candy, and sweetcorn flavour.
New Pepero Designs For 2024
Every year there are usually a few new box designs and flavours of Pepero to celebrate the advent of Pepero Day in Korea. In 2024, I’ve seen special designs of Pepero that feature the Powerpuff Girls, the K-Pop group New Jeans, Minions, Where’s Wally and Chiikawa (먼작귀 in Korean).
I can understand why New Jeans would make the cover as they’re really popular in Korea these days, but I don’t think I’ve seen the Powerpuff Girls or Chiikawa around as much, so that’s an unusual choice for this special edition. Minions and Where’s Wally are often used for products in Korea.
The core flavours of Pepero each get their own unique character art and some popular flavours get a combo, as you can see in the white cookie edition pictured above.
Which flavours of Pepero do you want to try? Below are three of the most popular flavours of Pepero – original chocolate Pepero (red box), white cookie Pepero (white box), and almond Pepero (green box). These flavours are so popular, they were chosen for the 2022 artist edition Pepero boxes.
Personally, I think the original (red box) are the best type of Pepero. It’s so easy to munch a whole box with a cup of coffee and they’re always available (even on Pepero Day). I also like the double dipped white and milk chocolate Pepero. They give you more chocolate and are great for dunking in coffee.
Different Versions Of Pepero
Pepero aren’t just sold as chocolate-covered biscuits. There are actually many different ways that they are sold, including an ice cream version that replaces the biscuit stick with vanilla ice cream. The ice cream Pepero bar is delicious and comes in a variety of flavours, including original and almond-coated.
Besides the ice cream bar, there are varieties of Pepero that you can usually find around Pepero Day that break the mould and offer a unique experience. Unique, but not always good in the case of the jelly version – avoid that one at all costs! Here are some of the different types of Pepero you can find.
|Chocolate-coated biscuit sticks with a variety of different flavours, including original, almond, and cookies & cream.
|These are similar to the original Pepero, however, the chocolate coating is now in the centre and the biscuit is on the outside.
|Double Dip Pepero
|These Pepero are similar to original Pepero, but have two coatings instead of one. They’re also shorter and fatter (due to the extra coating).
|Giant Pepero that are much taller and thicker than the original Pepero. There are only a few in each box and are more expensive.
|One of the least Pepero-like versions of Pepero. Instead of a layer of biscuit and a layer of chocolate, jelly Pepero have two layers of jelly. The outer jelly is a chocolate-vanilla flavour while the inner jelly is a milk chocolate flavour.
|Bap Pop Pepero
|These special rice-biscuit Pepero are coated with popping candy pieces that explode in your mouth. The word bap means rice in Korean, but might also be a reference to B.A.P. – a famous K-Pop group that famously played the Pepero Game in 2015.
What Is The Pepero Game?
The Pepero Game, or Pepero Kiss Game is a game where two people each place one end of a Pepero in their mouth and take turns biting the Pepero until their lips come closer and closer together. It’s like a Korean version of the iconic spaghetti scene in the movie The Lady and The Tramp.
The Pepero Game is played in teams of two people. Each team will try to get eat as much of the Pepero as possible without kissing their partner. The object of the Pepero Game is for your team to have the shortest Pepero at the end. If the two contestants are willing to get very close to each other, they have the best chance of winning. That’s why this is also called the Pepero Kiss Game.
Do you want to try the Pepero Game? Give it a go!
How To Say ‘Happy Pepero Day’ In Korean
How do you say ‘Happy Pepero Day’ in Korean?
If you’re in Korea and want to wish someone a Happy Pepero Day, or you want to write a message on a box of Pepero and gift it to someone, you can use the following Korean:
“빼빼로데이 축하해요!” – Happy Pepero Day!
If you can’t read hangul (the Korean alphabet), it sounds like this:
Go ahead and try it out when you give people Pepero on Pepero Day this year.
Tip: The Korean phrase ”축하해요‘ is really useful as it means ‘congratulations’. You can use it to wish someone well in Korea when they’ve got a promotion, had a baby, or they’re celebrating a special day, such as Pepero Day.
Which Korean Company Makes Pepero?
Pepero are made by the Lotte Corporation – one of Korea’s big conglomerates that seem to make everything (like Samsung & LG). The history of how they came up with the idea for Pepero is more than a little controversial, which is something I’ll cover next in the history of Pepero.
Although Pepero Day is too commercial, it’s still nice to give and receive gifts of delicious snacks with your friends and loved ones. Pepero Day can bring happiness to all. But there’s also a dark history to Pepero and an interesting story about how it fuels the fight between two East-Asian superpowers…
How Did Pepero Day Get Started?
How did Koreans end up eating a delicious snack like Pepero on November 11th every year while many other countries celebrate Remembrance Day or Veterans Day? Actually, the truth isn’t that clear, it’s been lost in the folds of time as so many other traditions and superstitions tend to be.
The story from Lotte is that it all started in the 1980s when school girls gave each other Pepero in the hope that they would both become tall and thin like the snack itself. I’m not sure if they actually wanted to look that tall and thin, nor how a sugary snack is meant to help you become thinner.
That’s the story that sounds the nicest for marketing execs and advertisers, though. Therefore, that’s what Lotte sells everyone – a dream of being tall and thin like a Pepero. To become tall and thin, you must eat 11 packets of Pepero at exactly 11 seconds past 11:11 am and 11:11 pm on November 11th.
Are you up for the challenge on Pepero Day in Korea this year?
How Pepero Day Really Started?
An alternative, and more obvious, explanation as to how Pepero Day got started is that the Pepero sticks resemble the number 1.
There are certainly more 1’s on November 11th (11/11) than any other date, so this must be the time to eat Pepero! Obviously.
Whatever the truth, Pepero Day in Korea is big business for Lotte with at least 50% of all Pepero sales occur during this time.
I maybe be responsible for at least 5% of those sales as I can’t resist them when it’s cold outside and I can dunk them into a hot coffee!
So what makes the story of Pepero Day so controversial? I’ll explain in the next section.
Pepero Day Vs Pocky Day: A Dark History
The story of Pepero Day isn’t all sweet. There are dark parts of the birth of Pepero and the start of Pepero Day in Korea, including a deep rivalry with a close neighbour and a battle between corporate giants which still goes on today and makes the news in the days running up to November 11th.
Pepero Day’s origins go back decades and the event has moved from the classrooms of Korean high schools into all corners of Korean society. As Pepero Day spread across the country, the Pepero varieties also increased, with many interesting, delicious, or bizarre flavours appearing each year.
I first knew November 11th as Pocky Day as I lived in Japan before living in Korea. Pocky, as you can see from the picture above, are identical to Pepero. There is actually a bit of controversy surrounding the two products, not only because they share the same day, but also what they symbolise.
If you listen to this story of Pepero, you’ll find out why there’s a controversy. Glico launched Pocky in 1966, 17 years before Lotte ‘created’ Pepero in 1983. When Lotte decided to sell Pepero, Glico tried to stop them, arguing it was a blatant copy of Pocky. Which it certainly was, as you can see.
Lotte argued that as Pocky weren’t sold in Korea at that time, there was no copyright infringement. Yeah, not sure that would stick in most countries, but it saved Lotte and they were allowed to keep making Pepero. There’s another twist here, though… Pepero Day came before Pocky Day!
Pepero Day started in the 1980’s and was officially recognised as a special day in Korea in 1997. Glico saw the opportunity to make a lot of money from this idea and Pocky Day became officially recognised in Japan in 1999 – two years after Pepero Day. Yes, Pepero Day came before Pocky Day!
So both companies have benefited from this strange case of copyright infringement and stealing ideas from each other. Whatever, we all win as now we can celebrate Pepero Day in Korea or Pocky Day in Japan, or whichever you want. Both are on sale in Korea, so choose your side wisely.
Now it’s time to see how to celebrate Pepero Day and embrace some delicious Korean culture.
How To Celebrate Pepero Day In Korea
If you’re living in or visiting Korea, then why not join in with Pepero Day gift giving? Pepero are fairly cheap and are certainly a lot more affordable than a big box of chocolates. It’s not hard to find Pepero in the weeks before Pepero Day, just head to any convenience store or supermarket and you’ll see massive displays of Pepero and other appropriate gifts to go with them, as pictured above.
There are many special boxes of Pepero, such as ones where you can write a secret message for a friend or even a crush! You can buy giant Pepero that will go down well with a loved one, apparently. If you want to be a mystery Pepero gifter, sneak some boxes of Pepero onto your co-worker’s desks, place them in front of your neighbour’s door, or leave some giant Pepero for your crush.
It is common to give a box of Pepero to co-workers, friends, teachers, or students. It’s similar to the red money envelopes given during New Year in China, but cheaper. I’ve received a couple of boxes at work, and shared with friends. I look forward to enjoying them with a coffee very soon.
How I Celebrate Pepero Day In Korea
I am a self-confessed coffee addict and I certainly have a bit of a sweet tooth! Therefore, what I love doing on Pepero Day, as I’m actually doing right now, is to have a coffee with a whole box of delicious Pepero all to myself.
One of my co-workers was kind enough to give me a box (my 4th) and I will enjoy that while thinking what to write about next. That’s the wonderful thing about this holiday – it’s all about giving and eating. What could be better?
If you’re in Korea in November, or have a chance to get some Pepero or Pocky, why not make a hot drink and dunk the Pepero inside for a few seconds so the chocolate melts and creates a heavenly mix of coffee and cacao.
Choose from one of the dozens of flavours that are now available, there’s something for everyone. Be tall and thin like a Pepero, but maybe don’t eat 11 boxes at once.
Curious About Korean Culture?
I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to a fun bit of Korean culture through Pepero Day. If you’re interested in learning more about Korean culture and etiquette, then you’ll love these guides I’ve put together after years of living in Korea.
First, learn some interesting facts about Korea, including many things you probably didn’t know about the Land of the Rising Sun (including why it’s called that). Then, be sure to check out my Korean etiquette guide with lots of interesting tips about how to avoid social faux pas in Korea.
Finally, find out why the Korean fan death myth makes so many Koreans uncomfortable in summer, even when the fans should be keeping everyone cool. It’s a bizarre story with another dark history, just like the story of Pepero Day. Just make sure you read it on a cool day with the windows open.
Pepero Day In Korea FAQs
Here are a few FAQs about celebrating Pepero Day in Korea, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you. If you have any other questions you’d like to ask, feel free to leave a comment.
Did Pocky Day Or Pepero Day Come First?
Pepero Day was first officially celebrated in Korea in 1997. Pocky Day was first officially celebrated in Japan 2 years later in 1999. However, Glico, a Japanese company, started producing Pocky in 1966, 17 years before Lotte created Pepero. There is some controversy between Pepero and Pocky, with Glico claiming that Lotte copied Pocky when they created Pepero.
Which Company Makes Pepero?
Pepero are made by the Lotte Company. Lotte is a large Korean conglomerate that makes many different products and owns hotels, department stores, and many other businesses.
What Day Is Pepero Day In Korea?
Pepero Day in Korea is on November 11th. The first Pepero Day was officially celebrated in 1997 in Korea. There are many explanations about why this date was chosen, including the idea that the tall, thin Pepero resemble the number 1 and November 11th (11/11) is like four Pepero lined up together. Another story is that Korean schoolgirls ate Pepero to become tall and thin, like the shape of a Pepero.
What Country Are Pepero From?
Pepero are originally from South Korea but are now sold around the world. There are many different types of Pepero for sale in Korea, including the original chocolate coated sticks, ‘nude’ sticks with fillings inside, ‘double-dipped’ sticks with two flavours, and many more.
Can I Buy Pocky In Korea?
Yes, you can buy Pocky in Korea at convenience stores and supermarkets. However, as Pocky is a Japanese brand, and Pepero are Korean, you’ll find Pepero for sale in many more places. Both are available and enjoyed during Pepero Day in Korea.
When Is Pepero Day In Korea?
Pepero Day is celebrated in Korea on November 11th. The date (11/11) is said to resemble the shape of Pepero, which are tall and thin like the number 1.
Liked This? Pin It For Others
If you enjoyed reading this article, then please share this with your friends on Pinterest.