The true faithful have been preparing for this day for some time now. And 11/11 is here once again. It is time for Pocky Day.
There might be some readers outside the country who might be wondering what a Pocky is in the first place, and why it gets its own special day. So: a Pocky is a cookie that’s about as thin as a ballpoint pen ink refill and a good bit longer, almost completely dipped in chocolate, and with a cookie bit that you can hold on to as you crunch your way through. (That crunch sound, rendered in Japanese onomatopoeia, is “pokkin”: hence, Pocky.) They’re long and thin, and look like the number one. So, 11/11 is Pocky Day.
While it doesn’t stack up that well against traditional world holidays, the story behind Pocky Day, as explained by Tofugu a few years back, is an interesting study of the ways that companies observe their competitors – and their customers. The sweet snack is a creation of the Japanese company Glico that dates back to 1966, but starting in 1983, a copycat version of Pocky called Pepero was put on the market in South Korea by Korean firm Lotte. Although the people at Glico, who make the slender cookie, probably weren’t too happy about having their Pockys picked (sorry…), there was an eventual blessing in disguise. About ten years after Pepero hit the shelves, middle school girls at a school in Busan started giving them as gifts to one another on 11/11, with the wish that they would grow as “tall and slender as a Pepero.” “As go the middle schoolers, so goes the country,” as the old expression goes, so Lotte found out about the trend and used it in their marketing campaigns, and it wasn’t long before grownups were giving Pocky (and other romantic gifts) on this day filled with ones.
When the original makers of the thin, cylindrical biscuit got wind of the success that Lotte was having with their marketing of Pepero Day, Glico’s Pocky Day wasn’t far behind. So, unlike Valentine’s Day – which did have loose historical connections to the idea of romantic love before it was co-opted by the chocolate, floral, and greeting card industry – Pocky Day was a commercial event from the beginning.
But don’t let the purely artificial nature of the holiday put you off Pocky. They’re pretty tasty, and come in a variety of flavors and styles that approaches the creativity of Japanese Kit Kats, so today is as good as any to indulge if you’ve got a sweet tooth. If you’re still sticking (sorry again) to that paleo diet or can’t pick them up where you live, you can partake in another Pocky Day tradition – watching goofy Pocky ads, a few of which we’ve collected below.
Have a good 1!
If you’re in the mood for some 80s style perkiness …
Dare we call it a “Pock Block?”
Nothing defuses meeting the parents of the bride to be like bursting into a Pocky song.
Pock Block II: Down by the seashore…
How come we never had this much fun at high school?