How the Korean corn dog went viral

When Emily Hui opened the Korean corn dog spot Stix in San Francisco in late 2019, she wasn’t sure how long the snack would hold people’s interest. She had seen more and more Korean corn dogs in mukbangs, the video format launched by Korean streamers in which they talk and eat on camera, and she had tried them on a trip abroad. But although Korean corn dogs gained popularity in Asia, the trend was still untapped in the United States. When Stix first opened, it was the first Korean corn dog store in San Francisco. As of this summer, however, the trend was strong, according to Hui. “I really have to give Instagram and social media credit,” she says.

On TikTok, the number of videos featuring Korean corn dogs has increased year round, according to a representative of the platform, with #koreancorndog peaking in usage in June and July after the test videos designer @ dee.045’s taste has gone viral. The snack seems designed for exactly this kind of video success. The state fair-style corn dog is fun, sure, but Korean corn dog stores have a plethora of options. Start with a core, be it all sausage, half sausage and half cheese, all cheese, two kinds of cheese, half fish cake and half cheese, and so on. Dip this filling into the batter, then roll it in breadcrumbs or toppings like diced fries, crushed ramen noodles, or crispy rice before hitting the deep fryer. The result is so crispy you can hear the coating breaking with every bite, and the dairy-filled varieties offer a classic social media bait: the cheese pull.

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As influencers on Instagram and TikTok posted videos of themselves trying out Korean corn dogs, they’ve drawn customers to the doors of places like Stix. Still, Hui’s earlier skepticism made sense. Viral food trends are almost unavoidable, but also ephemeral: Dalgona coffee, although ubiquitous at the start of the pandemic, has disappeared from the radar in favor of cloud bread and feta pasta now also passed. Unlike these DIY trends, which relied on the capricious interest of home cooks, Korean corn dog can be a ready-to-eat meal, especially appealing to people who fear the deep fryer or appreciate the novelty of buying meat. on sticks somewhere. They banked on greater permanence during 2021 as they inspired a new niche of stores across the United States. The heyday of Korean Corn Dogs on TikTok may be fading, but their brick-and-mortar boom is showing their potential to become a more enduring feature of the American snack canon.

Corn dogs gained popularity as Korean street food in the 1980s, but the current corn dog trend – which sees more than just hot dogs coated in cornmeal dough – is generally attributed to Myungrang Hot Dog, a chain that started in a market near Busan in 2016. In just three years, Myungrang has racked up 650 stores in Korea, turning corn dogs from a street vendor’s staple to a darling of franchise. As social media increased the trend’s global appeal, the company began its U.S. expansion into Georgia in 2018, and when it arrived in Koreatown in Los Angeles the following year, the location took hold. a limit of five corn dogs per person just to keep the lines under control. . Interest in Korean corn dogs in the United States has grown steadily since then, with a huge spike in interest in Google search in early 2021.

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