Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pepero (빼빼로)!

It's 11/11 today!

That means, in the United States, that it is Veteran's Day.

In Korea, and the predominantly Korean areas around the world, 11/11 means it's Pepero Day!

Ah, 빼빼로. How I love those crispy little chocolate-covered cookie sticks. All right, so really, Pepero is Lotte's answer to Pocky. But there's no Pocky Day, which was attempted and flopped in Japan. There is a Pepero Day, which has got to be one of my favorite ridiculous holidays.

There are disputes as to why Pepero Day started, but everyone agrees as to why it's on November 11. All those 1's look like sticks of Pepero, of course. Isn't that just the most inane reason for a holiday? So it's really a marketing day, much like Valentine's Day or Halloween, but it's still fun. And, like both Valentine's Day and Halloween, Pepero Day is just an excuse for eating sweets.

The above are the Pepero mascots. There are tons of Flash animations of them online, all funny and cute and slightly weird. I think they look like upside-down lollipops. The reasoning behind the character design completely eludes me, but I'm in a business that requires all kinds of justifications for design elements. I don't think the same applies to candy companies.

I have heard from people and read online that the Pepero Day sales are getting higher and higher, so the products are getting fancier and more expensive. Pepero sticks packaged prettily and tied up with ribbon are quite common, as are giant Peperos, really large cookie sticks that almost look like tiny baguettes. (Not good, by the way- the cookie-to-chocolate ratio is all thrown out of whack.)

I did not realize that today was Pepero Day until last night past midnight, when I was (sadly) working from home and saw in an e-mail stamp that it was 11/11. I wish I had had the foresight to remember, because I would have bought boxes of Pepero for my co-workers.

I can't buy Pepero in L.A., don't be crazy. Koreatown might be close, but it takes forever to get there, what with the combination of L.A. traffic and Korean drivers. Plus, I get into work before stores open and get out of work after stores have closed. I really should have bought Pepero in Cerritos when I was at my parents' house ... but I didn't think of it. Sigh.

I might go to Mitsuwa, my local Japanese market, during lunch today. They don't sell Pepero, but they sell Pocky. Pocky will just have to do in a pinch. Plus, Santouka has the most delicious shio ramen. Mmm, ramen.