Why Is Everyone Talking About Dalgona Candy?

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One of Maddy Park’s earliest reminiscences of road meals was when distributors set up a transportable range exterior her elementary college in Seoul, South Korea, to promote a sweet for about a dime. It was half candy deal with, half recreation.

Candy makers melted sugar and frothed it up with a pinch of baking soda to make this dalgona sweet, Ms. Park recalled. They then pressed the combination flat and pushed shapes like a circle, triangle, sq., star or umbrella into the middle. Ms. Park’s classmates determinedly tried to select the stamped form utilizing a needle with out breaking it — a recreation called ppopgi. If the children efficiently eliminated the form from the brittle sweet, they received one other deal with at no cost.

“Dalgona was one of the cheapest, unhealthiest, yet the most addictive gamble for 7-year-old me,” said Ms. Park, now 28 and dwelling in Downtown Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ms. Park is one in all many Koreans whose reminiscences of dalgona sweet, also called ppopgi, have surfaced due to the discharge last month of “Squid Game” on Netflix. The fictional series follows a gaggle of cash-strapped people prepared to die enjoying childhood video games for an opportunity to win a jackpot. Episode 3 is all about ppopgi.

Read more about “Squid Game” on Netflix.

“There’s a gambling sort of element to it, kind of like in the ‘Squid Game’ but without life or death,” JinJoo Lee, 55, the Korean meals blogger behind Kimchimari, said about ppopgi. Her recipe for dalgona sweet, which she posted on-line in 2018, has had a 30 percent enhance in site visitors within the past few days. Similar candies are popular all over the world, she said, but they go by completely different names.

Dalgona sweet stuffed a candy void in postwar South Korea for children who had grown accustomed to the free candies given away by American troopers, said Albert Park, an affiliate professor with experience in Korean history at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. Dalgona was cheap and accessible, he said.

At first, glucose was used as a result of uncooked sugar was costly, Mr. Park said. But distributors probably started utilizing sugar after the Korean War, when corporations started to course of it from its uncooked kind, he said. The toffee-colored honeycomb sweet became frequent within the Nineteen Sixties, and was offered exterior elementary colleges and toy shops.

Dalgona distributors began to vanish within the early 2000s as on-line buying became more popular and toy shops started to close, Mr. Park said. It’s also probably that South Korea’s booming sweet industry, and its proliferation of different forms of cheap candies, put many of the mom-and-pop dalgona sweet makers out of enterprise.

But due to the recognition of “Squid Game,” the sweet has made a comeback as a retro, nostalgic snack, Mr. Park said. “For some of these young Koreans, I don’t think they consciously think it’s Korean candy, but it’s a way to connect to their history that they don’t want to necessarily do in a history book,” he said.

Social media has shepherded its leap to worldwide fame, introducing the sweet to people exterior South Korea.

The identify dalgona became more acquainted to Americans within the midst of the coronavirus pandemic due to the recognition of the whipped espresso also known as dalgona. The beverage gained fame in January 2020 after the actor Jung Il-woo tried it in Macau on “Stars’ Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant,” a South Korean television show. He said it reminded him of the dalgona sweet, unofficially naming the drink within the course of. It then feverishly unfold to South Korea’s espresso outlets and ultimately made its way to the United States.

Some people, although, say dalgona sweet’s unfold by means of social media can divorce it from its cultural significance. “Dalgona candy is representative of fetishizing K-pop and K-dramas, and seeing one thing and saying, ‘Wow I’ve discovered Korean culture,’” said Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist and expert on race and racism in Hollywood, “when in fact the candy, the cinema, the television series, all of these things, have been in existence.”

Fans love the sweet’s mix of bitter, nutty and candy tastes. “The flavor, for some reason, stays with you,” said Annie Yoo, 46, of Düsseldorf, Germany.

Ms. Yoo’s most vivid reminiscences of South Korea are these of meals like dalgona sweet, as she was only 6 years outdated when she immigrated to the United States. She remembers the dust roads she took to get to the dalgona road distributors beneath their tarps.

“I really miss that candy,” she added. “In the midst of all the stuff we were going through, you barely get any treats. It was really magical.”

In a YouTube video in which the “Squid Game” cast reacts to some of the scenes, Chae Kyung-sun, the show’s artwork director, reveals that dalgona sweet was the trickiest prop to work with. Behind the scenes, she said, there was an expert who stored making the sweet as they were filming.

Those who’ve performed the sweet recreation strategy it with completely different methods. Hwang Dong-hyuk, the show’s author and director, integrated his own into the series: The show’s primary character, Seong Gi-hun, repeatedly licks the sweet to loosen the umbrella form from the center. It’s a trick the director said he used to win prizes when he was youthful.

But Ms. Park, who ate the sweet exterior her elementary college in Seoul, never did handle to win a free sweet.

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