The Squid Game on Netflix has become a worldwide hit and topped the viewing charts in South Africa for several weeks.
The show, where cash-strapped individuals play children’s games, with losers under threat of death, has captured imaginations with its innocence and cruelty, the desperation of being human and the excitement of the gamble. In episode 3, players cut out shapes from a cookie called dalgona, a honeycomb-like flattened Korean snack imprinted with patterns.
Since the show aired, this childhood snack-game has become a craze and hordes of people are now making dalgona and cutting out shapes with needles, licking flipsides and Squid-gaming it at home. If you break the shape, you lose, or in the Squid Game, get culled.
Dalgona is a form of honeycomb, made from a simple recipe with sugar and baking soda with the shape of an umbrella, a triangle, square and a star. Taking up the challenge presented in the Squid Game, without being lynched at the end, has become a social media craze with the #dalgona hashtag garnering over a billion hits on TikTok alone and #dalhonachallenge tagged posts passing the 100 million mark.
According to the New York Times, dalgona became a popular snack after United States troops, who regularly shared chocolate with children during the Korean war, withdrew along with their sweet stuff. It was originally made with glucose when cane sugar was too expensive. It became a popular street food in the Seventies and Eighties but slowly died down towards the 2000s as online shopping and mass-produced sweets replaced mom and pop vendors.
The Squid Game changed all of that and ppopgi, the game of cutting out the dalgona shapes, its global double-whammy export.
Korean car-maker Hyundai quickly jumped on the back of Squid Game’s success, posting images of models on dalgona cookies and posting the choice between cars beneath.
Twitter has seen thousands of new shapes created on the honeycomb with, should you unpick the pic, various degrees of difficulty or in some cases, looking clearly impossible to navigate. Even the Kool-Aid man has had a stab at leveraging off dalgona.
The trend is not lost on South Africa, with tons of YouTube videos and social posts of making dalgona and taking the challenge now online.
The popularity of Korean drama and music, known as K-drama and K-pop, continues to grow globally and has seen a surge in popularity during the pandemic.
How to Make Dalgona:
You will need a wooden spoon, a spatula, a flat plate or tray with a smooth surface and some round cookie molds and shapes.
Also, a small pot or frying pan, depending on how many you plan to make. Ensure it’s coated in some form of non-stick spray or oil.
To make two dalgona disks, you’d need a tablespoon of sugar with a pinch of baking soda.
- Heat up the stove and the pan and place the sugar inside.
- Allow it to bubble up until it is somewhat translucent. Avoid it burning and stir constantly.
- Once it’s transparent-ish, add a pinch of baking soda and remove from the heat immediately.
- Stir well and place it back on the stove. You should see the mixture puff up now. Don’t wait longer than a handful of seconds before removing it from the stove. If it turns too dark, you know you’ve burnt it.
- Now scrape the mixture onto your flat surface or plate.
- As it cools, flatten it to make the disk.
- Then, impress your mold shape onto the top. Now it can cool completely.