Oct 8, 2021 - Economy

Why everyone's talking about "Squid Game" and dalgona

Dalgona, a type of Korean toffee candy

Dalgona Korean sugar candies. Photo: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you haven't heard of "Squid Game," a Netflix series that has taken South Korea by storm — and seems poised to do the same in the U.S. — here's what you need to know:

"Squid Game" is a nine-episode miniseries with a "Hunger Games"-type plot, set in a dystopian world in which desperate people compete in deadly children's games to win a huge cash prize.

  • One plot element involves a toffee-style candy called dalgona, made from melted sugar and baking soda — and that's why both the candy (often sold in lollipop form) and dalgona coffee have gone viral on TikTok. (You can make the candy in under 10 minutes, per a hot-off-the-press NYT recipe.)
  • The third episode of "Squid Game" is "all about ppopgi," a game in which kids use needles to try to pick up shapes stamped into brittle dalgona, the Times reports.

Why it matters: The show — with its creepy-looking masked guards whose red costumes are likely to be omnipresent this Halloween — points to uncomfortable socioeconomic truths that resonate in many societies, the Times explains.

  • "Squid Games" has "tapped a sense familiar to people in the United States, Western Europe and other places, that prosperity in nominally rich countries has become increasingly difficult to achieve, as wealth disparities widen and home prices rise past affordable levels."
  • It's "now the top-ranked show in the United States on Netflix and is on its way to becoming one of the most-watched shows in the streaming service’s history," per the Times.
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