If you’ve been following the news on North Korea, that is.
This past week, I noticed several very similar news stories from CNN, the Huffington Post, and NBC News, all in a tizzy over a snack cake called the Choco Pie. You might have heard of it or seen one of the programs! Anyway, according to CNN the Choco Pie has slowly but surely infiltrated the North Korean black market; it is an exotic delicacy that can only be bought for exorbitant prices which cannot compare to the risk the treat’s smugglers take to bring them across the border.
What is a “Choco Pie,” you ask? Good question!
The Choco Pie is a snack cake manufactured by the company Orion. Made up of layers of cake and marshmallow, all dipped in chocolate coating, It’s available to those of us with regular Internet access on candygeek.com for only $3.25 a package of 12. But for North Koreans, it’s much harder to get.
All of the hubbub this week has been due to the fact that it’s come to international attention that as a vestige of Western capitalism, the Choco Pie represents everything the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) rails against (and keeps its people away from at all costs), and yet it has become a forbidden pleasure among the working class.
According to the CNN article, the snacks are given out at an industrial complex along the border where North Koreans and South Koreans come in contact with one another. In the market, they can cost around $10. This seems a little steep to me for any snack cake, but when you consider that these working-class citizens make around $100 a month… well…
As of last October, dailynk.com reported that North Korea was spreading news headlines that South Koreans had added harmful chemicals to Choco Pies, in order to discourage the people from seeking them (accompanied with the news that South Korean pamphlets were to only be touched with sticks). This was, of course, a government fabrication. For workers who receive their bonuses as gifts of food, the Choco Pie might not be the most nutritious, with 120 calories and 4.5 grams of fat per serving. But it certainly sounds tasty, and millions of other people across the Asian continent enjoy the same Choco Pies as the North Koreans.
Back in 2006, Forbes.com posted this article warning parents of the world of Orion’s expansion of the Choco Pies. They were right: according to the Choco Pie Wikipedia page, it holds a two-thirds share of the Chinese snack markets. The takeover of the economy is just part of Orion’s plan for the “Pie Road” to world market domination.
Now here’s the real fun stuff, if this hasn’t opened your eyes to how much they need a Twinkie infiltration over there:
Blogger junkfoodguy spent a very long and entertaining blog post telling his readers his complete experience with his Choco Pie when he tested it out himself. It seems like a hilarious time and I’m very jealous that I don’t know where to find one to do the same! More on that if I find out there’s one in the grocery store two blocks away.
Also, in the CNN article they mentioned that South Korean artist Jin Joo Chae has very recently opened an exhibition entitled, “The Choco Pie-ization of North Korea” in NYC. I might just have to go take a look myself, so I think that’s going to be my weekend homework for you guys! The exhibition includes screen-printed images made from the melted chocolate of choco-pies, and is devoted to the dynamic concepts that Chae wishes to impart to her audience of conflict, yearning, and her personal frustrations to do with the separation between the Koreas. I personally think this sounds incredibly creative and thought-provoking. If I make it over there I will post about it asap!
But until then, maybe some of you have had Choco Pies and can tell us about them! Apparently they are based on the Moon Pies brought over with American G.I.s during WWII, which still exist in America, but I’ve never had one. I’d be interested to try though!