Pepero is involved in a controversy with the Japanese product Pocky.
As of 2014, it is sold in 7 flavors:
- Almond (coated with chocolate)
- Nude (chocolate in the center with a biscuit coating on the outside; the other way around from an original chocolate pepero)
- White Chocolate Cookie
- Tiramisu Cheese
Pepero is "strikingly similar" to the Japanese snack Pocky which is manufactured by a Japanese confectionery company Glico since 1966. When Pepero was introduced in 1983, Glico considered taking action against what it considered a copycat snack but found it would be difficult, because Pocky was not sold in Korea. As such Pepero has been claimed to be a Korean version of Pocky, Lotte denies that it was inspired by the product.
In 2014, Glico sued Lotte which allegedly copied packaging box design of Glico's Baton d'or exclusive series of Pocky and Pretz for Lotte's new product Premier Pepero. On 14 August 2015, Seoul district court ruled that Lotte stole the box design of Glico's products and the ruling is expected to force Lotte to halt its sales of the product and dispose of the existing stock.
On July 10, 2015, Glico filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court against Lotte USA for infringing on the trademarks of Pocky. Glico had registered the Pocky's three-dimensional trademarks prior to the launch of Pepero in the U.S.
Pepero Day is an observance in South Korea similar to Valentine's Day, but held on November 11. The original purpose of the Pepero Day was to exchange peperos with each other in hopes of becoming taller and thinner. The current purpose is to exchange peperos to show affection for friends and loved-ones.
The exact origins of this day are unknown. The origins are usually traced to a news story set in 1983. In the story, two female middle school students in the Yeongnam region exchanged peperos wishing that they would both become tall and thin. There is some doubt about this story. Some argue that the origin was due to the shape of 1’s in the date (November 11 – 11/11) resembling peperos. While some attribute the similarity of shapes as factors that attributed to the popularity but not its origin.
The fad spread with the idea that, for maximum effectiveness for height and thinness, one must eat 11 packets of Pepero on November 11, 11:11am and 11:11pm at 11 seconds exactly. From 1997, Lotte started to use the aforementioned school story to successfully promote Pepero Day. The trend led to other companies creating similar-shaped snacks to participate on Pepero Day. As of 2012, Lotte was making 50% of its annual sales on Pepero Day. As of 2013, several department stores including Hyundai Department Store, Shinsegae, and Lotte Department Store were benefiting for people celebrating the day while stores such as E-mart and Homeplus were specially displaying and selling peperos on the day.
Pepero Day has been criticized for being a business tool of certain companies and for having high calories which is contradictory to its original meaning. Alternatives include "Garaetteok Day", which promotes Farmer’s Day through exchanges of garaetteok (sticks of white tteok).
- (Korean) Pepero Type
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Lotte Confectionery, a South Korean food company, started making a strikingly similar product — while denying it had copied Pocky — called Pepero in 1983.
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