Time Travel to the Past with Pokemon Bread
Time Travel to the Past with Pokemon Bread
  • Reporter Song Geun-seok
  • 승인 2022.05.02 22:59
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▲Pokemon bread by SPC Samlip returned to the market / Chosunbiz
▲Pokemon bread by SPC Samlip returned to the market / Chosunbiz


The biggest trend in South Korea these past few months has been Pokemon bread. Pokemon bread is a bread that is packaged with a sticker of one of the 159 characters from a famous Japanese anime, Pokemon. Pokemon bread was sold until 2006 after it debuted in 1998 when the anime was aired in South Korea, and it was reintroduced to the market this year on Feb. 24.
Since its return, Pokemon bread has sparked a craze in South Korea, especially among the Millennials (people in their 20s and 30s). According to SPC Samlip, the manufacturer of the product, its sales surpassed 10 million within 43 days since its release, and the product is still maintaining its popularity with hundreds of people waiting and checking into the supermarkets every day. It is commonplace to see a poster attached to the door of a convenience store saying “Pokemon Bread sold out.” SPC Samlip even had to write an apology statement for not meeting the supply due to the feverous demand.
So, why is Pokemon bread such a big deal in South Korea, especially among the Millennials? One main reason that Lee Young-ae, a professor at the department of consumer science at Incheon National University, points out is that it brings about nostalgia to those who grew up with good memories regarding Pokemon bread in the early 2000s. The elementary school kids who could only afford one or two have now grown up, so they are now financially able to purchase large quantities. The result of this large demand and purchase is the shortage of products. The professor added that amidst the difficult social situation, Pokemon bread brings about huge satisfaction at a low cost by bringing good memories of the past. The main consumers of the past have now become parents, and they are passing on their good memories to their sons and daughters, so the product is also arising as a hot issue among the younger generation.
Some experts also mentioned that the desire to collect cute Pokemon stickers added interest for consumers. This marketing effect where the consumers buy the product to get certain additions rather than the main product is called the “Wag the Dog” effect, and a large portion of consumers are purchasing the bread to collect a sticker with certain characters. According to OhmyNews, people in their 20s and 30s cited that the largest reason they bought the product was because the stickers were cute. They find peace in their minds and are relieved by acquiring and enjoying the cute Pokemon stickers.
Lastly, the bandwagon effect, which is when people do something because other people do, has added to the craze. According to Ohmynews, a significant portion of people replied that the bandwagon effect and social media affected them in buying the bread. In fact, more than 100 thousand social media posts with the hashtag #Pokemonbread (#포켓몬빵) have been uploaded. The fear of missing out (FOMO) led many people to take part in the trend.
There are also side effects to its popularity. The stickers are resold at a higher price (the market price is 1,500 KRW) in secondhand markets. This is problematic because secondhand trading of unpacked food is considered illegal under the current law. However, the bigger problem is that some use Pokemon bread as bait for crimes. In March, there was an incident in which a convenience store owner sexually harassed a 11-year-old girl by luring her with Pokemon bread. Such side effects should go, and hopefully the current craze remains as a positive, clean culture.