How often do you eat dessert after a meal? Dessert comes from the French word ‘Desservir’, which means ‘finish one’s meal’ or ‘clear the table.’ Dessert consumption has existed since prehistoric times, and it is well-known that ancient Greek philosophers enjoyed dessert after supper forums. With the start of mass sugar production in the Middle Ages, enjoying dessert became a culinary culture, and by the 19th century, dessert became second nature, just as it is today. Have you had dessert yet today?
Recently, women are spending more time and money on desserts. The Korean traditional dessert café Sulbing drew attention from Sookmyungians when it opened a SMU branch near the campus last summer. It entered the dessert industry at an opportune time, and it now has about roughly 400 stores nation-wide. The dessert craze can be found in department store sales. For instance, sales of desserts at Lotte Department Store increased by 8.6% compared to last year, and the dessert profits were 22% higher than in the same period last year.1 Not only are cafés and department stores seeing higher profits from dessert menus, the convenience store industry has also been enticing female customers by focusing on premium dessert products. One convenience store industry official said, “The main consumers of dessert products are women, and the proportion of female customers is increasing.”2
Besides, many new dessert cafés are targeting women consumers as test subjects because popularity among female consumers shows their competitiveness. The commercial zone area around Sookmyung Womens’ University is a great example. For instance, Crown confectionary opened the subsidiary dessert shop Haitairo near SMU campus. So Sungsoo, promotional team leader of Crown confectionary explained, “We determined the area in front of SMU to be the best place to test our new story since it is a commercial zone where a lot of young female students gather.”3 Dessert shops and cafés are popping up in areas in front of female campuses in order to take advantage of the supply of female students.
The Bridge over Sweetness
At the center of the dessert craze among young women, there is consumption tendency. For young ladies, price doesn’t matter much when deciding whether to consume a certain dessert. Even if the price is rather expensive, young women are not hesitant to spent money on a dessert to show their unique personalities and values. They regard the dessert purchase as an investment or reward, not an extravagant or luxurious buy. According to 20s Trend Report 2015 from UnivTomorrow Research Laboratory for Twenties, young consumers, nicknamed ‘Sseullomon*,’ seek more rational and innovative consumption purchases in order to reveal their own identity.”4
In addition to this new social trend, there are also physical and psychological reasons for the current culture. Research has found that women cannot conserve as much sugar in the body as men. In fact, it’s about one-third less, so they have a natural tendency to suffer anxiety and depression as well as show irritability. This seems to be another reason why women love dessert more than men. Psychological factors also contribute to the desire to eat sweets in order to overcome a depressing reality. Pressure and depression from study and unemployment have made young women seek sweet desserts. These desserts cause the secretion of endorphins, which can reduce stress. Kim Yonghan, a professor at the Agro-Food Marketing Training Institute in the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation said, “The economic situation shows a clear correlation with appetite. The longer a recession continues, the more people look for extremely sweet, spicy, and pungent flavors.”5
Moreover, dessert cafés play various roles. They also serve beverages like coffee or tea, so enjoying a beverage along with a delicious dessert is better from consumers’ point of view. Especially, for female students who need a place to study or do teamwork, dessert cafés are conducive spaces. Desserts also can be snacks for busy students who are liable to miss or skip a meal. Students enjoy a light dessert instead of a meal. Kang Hyejun, Department of Entrepreneurship ’14 said, “I often visit dessert cafés near campus to buy a piece of cake to eat as brunch whenever I have morning classes. The desserts are easy take out food, and I don’t need to worry about the smell or sound of chewing in the classroom or library.” Moreover, desserts are suitable gifts.
Close to You
Everyone experiences acertain amount of ‘emotional labor,’ and these emotionally ups and downs are inevitable in communal societal living. To endure, the brain needs energy, which it gets from calories and sugar. This is the way people endure today’s difficulties. Ha Eunju, School of Communication and Media ’14 said, “I understand that the dessert craze may serve to alleviate stressful situations during the short term, but continuously eating excessively fatty desserts can also be stressful."
Too much is as bad as too little. We should avoid frequently consumption of high calorie desserts. Nevertheless, desserts help many women dream of sweetness. According to recent research in England, women get depressed in winter easier than men. Whether it is true or not, a wealth ofhappiness is not that far away, and that happiness can be first and foremost foundin simple daily life by taking time out for dessert. How about going out for dessert for your mental health?
1 Yoo Seungho, “Dessert Zone of Department Store, Recorded Higher Sales than Women Clothing,” The Korea Economic Daily, August 2, 2014
2 Son Mijeong, “Convenience Stores Fall in Love with Desserts,” Heraldbiz, March 28, 2014
3 YoonHeeeun, “Hanyangdae and Sookdae commercial zones are ‘as good as that of Hongdae,” The Korea Economic Daily, August 26,2014
4 Choi Byungtae, “Bubble Consumption Exits, and Conviction Consumption Enters,” Weekly Khan, January 6, 2015
* 'Sseullomon’ is a play on words. The term is a combination of the Korean word ‘Sseulmo’ which means ‘useful’ and ‘Solomon.’ It stands for wise consumers who buy useful products.
5 Byun Jinkyung, “Deep Recession Brings About Many Sweet Things,” SisaIN, December 9, 2014