The Behind Story of ‘Squid Game’ Dalgona

Like the movie “Parasite” and the series “Crash Landing on You,” Netflix’s “Squid Game” is gaining huge popularity overseas. Among all of the games from the series, the second one – ‘dalgona’ – has drawn much attention since it is unfamiliar to younger generations and people in other countries. Out of 83 countries where Netflix is served, it has ranked first in 82 countries showing its enormous fame. In the U.S., thousands of dalgona kits of Squid Games have been made. Famous talk show host Jimmy Fallon also introduced this snack by parodying a scene licking the dalgona in the series. A YouTube tutorial video of how to cook dalgona, which appeared in the Squid Game, quickly surpassed 10 million views. Likewise, K-foods such as chimek, ramyeon, and dalgona have all gained popularity throughout the world. Korean foods in Korean contents such as K-dramas are also drawing keen attention. In other words, the so-called “K-food” has also become an official language in the world that is qualified to add “K-“. 

However, there is a sad backstory that most people do not know behind this fun and popular snack ‘dalgona’. Dalgona was a snack for children in the 1960s when food was poor. Due to the lack of development of the snack industry, it gained popularity for its sweet caramel taste made of only 2 ingredients. In 1962, the Cuban crisis caused a shortage of sugar cane, the main ingredient of sugar. The wholesale price, which was 25 won per 600 grams in 1961, rose 10 times to 240 won in April 1963. In addition, in the early 1960s, sugar became a means of investment due to the sugar hoarding craze, and it was one of the best gifts during the holidays as a valuable item. Therefore, many were interested in finding ways to use less sugar in snacks which ultimately led to making dalgona.

Unlike now, dalgona was not a welcomed snack in the first place. The first appearance of dalgona in the newspapers was a 1971 article with an unfortunate news of a child who died from eating too much dalgona. Now it has become a memorable snack made for fun in contrast with its perception in the 1960s that it was a junk food made using unsanitary and unhealthy ingredients excessively. Despite its fame and popularity as a trendy game in the present day, the history behind dalgona illustrates the sorrowful story of the earlier generations of the Korean people. 

By: Seo Yoon Jung