Montreal convenience store owner Robert Kim says the hugely popular Netflix series Squid Game hit particularly close to home.
The South Korean show stirs up fond memories of childhood games and tasty treats, though his walk down memory lane doesn’t include the deadly violence depicted in what has become the streaming service’s most watched series with over 111 million views.
Kim and his wife decided to recreate the sugary delight, known as dalgona candy, that plays a central role in the show’s third episode, The Man with the Umbrella.
Once the couple mastered the technique and put it on display, the candy sold out within the first hour.
The show has turned dalgona into a viral hit on social media platforms, like Tik Tok and YouTube, as fans try their hand at etching shapes out of the brittle honeycomb-like candy that is made of melted sugar and a pinch of baking soda.
On the show, contestants have to successfully cut a shape out of the candy to save their lives.
The nine-part thriller, in which cash-strapped contestants play childhood games with deadly consequences in a bid to win 45.6 billion won ($47 million Cdn), was launched on Netflix less than a month ago.
Now dalgona sits next to the cash register in a handmade display at Kim’s store in Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood, where he can barely keep it in stock.
It has a roasted, almost nutty flavour that Kim, at 50 years old, remembers savouring while chatting with his friends.
They would make shapes out of the candy, which can be chipped or licked into new forms as long as you work delicately.
“After class, me and my friends and all the classmates went together. We played the game and we enjoyed it,” said Kim.
The recipe is rather simple, but the cooking technique takes practice, said Kim.
“At the beginning, we had to throw out a lot because you need a specific temperature. It’s very hard,” he said.
The candies have a shape imprinted in the tan, shell-like surface.
Kim has owned and operated Dépanneur Chez Claude & Claudette, located on Saint-Antoine Street, for 26 years.
He said it feels good to finally be bringing a taste of his youth to Montreal.
“I’ve never had something like that in Canada,” he said. “Nothing tastes like it.”
Kim said he watched Squid Game in two days and considers himself a big fan. He couldn’t stop watching, he said.
Now that he has been selling the candy for a bit, word has travelled on social media and customers are coming in looking for it, he said. They sell out quickly at $1.99 a piece.
As far as he’s concerned, he said, dalgona will always have a place in his store.