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What is the 'Squid Game' cookie craze? The viral food challenge explained

TikTok users are replicating one of the hit Netflix show's most stressful sequences.
/ Source: TODAY

The new Netflix thriller "Squid Game" has already taken over our television screens — and now, a related social media challenge is taking over TikTok.

The show, which stars Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, HoYeon Jung, Heo Sung-tae, Kim Joo-ryoung, Anupam Tripathi and Lee Yoo-mi, has been a huge success in the United States, spending days on Netflix's Top 10 list.

The gripping Korean drama is essentially a cross between "The Hunger Games" and "Kill Bill": Hundreds of people are invited to compete in a series of childhood games with lethal twists. The winner will take home millions, but losers will perish.

In their second challenge, competitors are given a piece of caramelized sugar candy, known in South Korea as a "dalgona cookie." The twist? They have to separate a shape — like a circle, star, or even an umbrella — from the fragile snack, without actually breaking the shape itself, all with a time crunch. Participants who break the shape die. The scene is intensely stressful — but TikTok users were inspired.

In one scene of "Squid Game," competitors have to separate a shape from a fragile candy known as a dalgona cookie. Here, main character Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) struggles to separate a complex umbrella shape. Youngkyu Park / Netflix

On the social media site, dozens of users shared videos of themselves making the sweet treat. Dalgona cookies only require two ingredients — sugar and baking soda — and it takes just five steps to make them:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of sugar over high heat, stirring regularly to avoid burning, until it melts and begins to caramelize.
  2. Add a small pinch of baking soda and mix quickly.
  3. Once the baking soda and sugar are mixed well and gooey, pour the mixture onto a sheet of baking paper.
  4. Flatten the mixture, then use a mold to add any shape you'd like onto the mixture.
  5. Let the candy harden, and enjoy.

Some of the videos have racked up millions of views. Users have pretended to be competitors in the gory television series, joking that the video is a "point of view" perspective from the game or adding in clips from the show.

Most of the users aren't successful, though — dozens of the videos show the dalgona cookies chipping, cracking in half, or crumbling into pieces. All of those results would go badly for any "Squid Game" competitors. Some users manage to get the shape out in one piece, which would mean they survived the game, for now.

It's not the first time a dalgona trend has taken over TikTok. In 2020, the site's baristas were mixing up whipped coffee, also known as dalgona coffee, a delicious, frothy treat made by combining instant coffee, water and sugar. The trend started in South Korea before making its way to social media, where it quickly inspired flavored spin-offs like whipped lemonade and whipped strawberry milk.