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Monday, April 15, 2024

Evolution of K-dessert, ‘Bungeo-ppang’

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by Kim Sang-jin (KoreaDaily)

Bungeo-ppang is one of Koreans’ favorite winter-season desserts, especially well-known for its fish shape with sweet red bean filling inside. Along with K-POP, K-Drama, and other forms of K-Culture, Bungeo-ppang is now gaining popularity as a trendy K-Dessert among the younger generations.

 Many Korean dessert cafés are adding Bungeo-ppang to their menu, totaling up to more than a dozen places where you can find fresh baked Bungeo-ppang in Koreatown.

 H.K. Chicken is one place that has been making and selling Bungeo-ppang for more than a decade at Koreatown, and it has recently recorded the highest level of sales by demands of customers from out of the state.

“The nostalgia of having a bite of that sweet and hot red bean filling is what makes the customers visit again”, said the owner of H.K. Chicken. “There are many customers visiting us from different states just to buy our Bungeo-ppang, and they would freeze them to bring them home”, he added.

 Anko Café, Coffee Signal, Mumu Bakery, Have Some Coffee and Somisomi are some cafés and dessert shops where you can find Bungeo-ppang in Koreatown.

 They offer multiple options of flavors, such as Nutella, custard, sweet potato, and mango, in addition to the traditional sweet red bean flavor to attract a wide range of customers.

 While many Koreans believe Bungeo-ppang to be one of those street foods, whether its current price is still of a street dessert is debatable. The cost of the ingredients in making Bungeo-ppang, including cooking oil, flour, and red bean, has all surged due to the recent inflation, which inevitably resulted in a higher price for the customers to buy Bungeo-ppang.

 One traditional Bungeo-ppang shop in Koreatown sells one Bungeo-ppang for $2 with discounts when purchasing more than five. It would cost about $2.25~2.50 per each at other dessert cafés located in Koreatown. 

But its affordability is not solely a concern of the customers.

“Although it costs almost 120% more when compared to the pre-pandemic period to make them, it’s really hard to raise the price because people still think it has to be cheap”, said an owner of a Bungeo-ppang shop who asked for anonymity.

 Because of the recent spike in price of almost everything, many customers are searching for cheaper substitutes, such as frozen Bungeo-ppang products in Korean markets. HaeTae’s frozen Bungeo-ppang lists for $3.99, and a bag of Pulmuone’s Sweet Potato Mini Bungeo-ppang is on sale for $12.95.

“We have recently experienced an increase in the sales of frozen Bungeo-ppang products because they are affordable and easy to serve”, said an employee at a Korean market.

by Lee Eun-young