A game of life and death, a struggle for survival, and a whole lot of anxiety – this is Netflix’s new Korean series titled ‘Squid Game’, which has captured the attention of people all over the world. But what makes it so different from the rest of the content on the OTT (over-the-top) media platform?
The nine-episode series is all about a game with 456 contestants in green uniforms, who are given juvenile tasks to compete against each other. Once a task is completed, they will progress to another level or die, which is also the surprising twist to the game. The game is not an easy feat despite the ease of the six tasks assigned.
The task in episode three in particular, has the cash-strapped contestants trying to carve a symbol out of one of South Korea’s famed candy known as dalgona or ppopgi. Crack the shape and you win, crack the whole piece through the middle, and they will be shot by the masked gunman in red.
But, what is ppogi?
Made with only two ingredients, sugar and baking soda, the candy brings back fond memories for the people of Korea and is also known as honeycomb candy or honeycomb toffee. But mastering the art of perfecting this candy’s texture is a three-fold process, where technique, timing and patience is key.
The candy is quite delicate and brittle, so it can be broken quite easily. However, the candy is served in different shapes pressed in the middle, but is only limited to four shapes in the series – an umbrella, a circle, a star and a triangle.
To carve the shape of the candy is extremely tricky especially since the candy tends to crack in straight lines. So, hearts, pills, and alphabets like ‘b’, ‘p’, ‘r’, ‘o’ are undeniably hard to ‘crack’.
Social media loves this, and have even taken it up a notch by theatrically shooting their videos with clips from the series itself
The easiest way to carve it is by using a needle or pin, rather than breaking it with your hands.
How has this food trend been beneficial?
According to reuters.com, An Yong-hui, a 37-year-old candy seller from Seoul has been selling dalgona candy or ppogi for the past eight years. “He and his co-workers used 15 kg (33 lb) of sugar to make 700 candies for the filming in June 2020 of the show's third episode, which is described by Netflix as equal parts "sweet and deadly"... he now sells more than 500 ‘dalgonas’ a day, from less than 200 before the show's premiere… with fans that start queuing up outside his 2-square-metre (2.4 square yards) street kitchen at 11am.”
So how do you make this candy at home?
All you need is a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of baking soda! Add the sugar to a pan or a flat-bottomed ladle and let it caramelise till it turns golden brown. Once done, add a pinch of baking soda to make the mix opaque and light brown. Pour it on parchment paper, or a lightly greased tray and carve a shape on the mix before it hardens. Once done, break it or carve it evenly and you win the challenge (if you’re playing against someone)! But, we at the Food team have a better suggestion, throw in some crushed peanut and you actually have yum brittle to munch.
Have you tried out the dalgona candy challenge yourself? Tell us about it on firstname.lastname@example.org