The hit Netflix show Squid Game has turned a once relatively niche South Korean candy into a hot commodity. It’s all centered around dalgona, which is a honeycomb toffee with a name that’ll be familiar to anyone who took part in the (unrelated) dalgona coffee trend that boomed on TikTok last year.
Dalgona is sweet, but the concept behind how it’s used in Squid Game is not. Characters in the show must complete games that are popular among South Korean children. They win money if they’re successful, and they may be shot if not.
For the dalgona game, contestants have to carefully break the toffee candy around a preset shape without breaking the whole thing. The show depicts four shapes: circle, star, umbrella, and triangle (street vendors and candy purveyors, however, offer many more options). Fans of the show have taken to YouTube and TikTok to test their candy shaping skills — albeit without the threat of death or the thrill of prize money.
According to Reuters, An Yong-hui, who owns a candy shop in Seoul and provided the candy for Squid Game, hasn’t been able to keep up with all of the people rushing to buy dalgona. Sales went from less than 200 per day to more than 500 per day after the show premiered in mid September.
It’s been a boon for a candy that has fallen out of favor in recent years. Reuters reports that dalgona has long been hawked by sellers in front of schools, though popularity has slowed since the early 2000s. Squid Game was written to tug on the nostalgic childhood games and touchpoints people knew growing up, making dalgona ripe for a revival.
If you want to give the game a go and see if you would survive, your best bet is to make some of the candy for yourself. All you need to do is caramelize some sugar, add a touch of baking soda, stir, and then pour it onto a non-stick mat and flatten while it’s still warm. Then, grab your favorite cookie cutter (if you’re playing the game, just remember a circle would be easier than, say, a gingerbread man) and press it down. Wait for it to cool, then break along the perforated edges without breaking any of the shape from the cookie cutter.
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