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‘Parasite’ instant noodles, budget beer, fly off the shelves

Feb 15,2020
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From left: Chapagetti and Neoguri ramen stacked up at a major market in Seoul on Friday. CJ’s Maxbong sausage and Lotte’s Filite beers. [YONHAP]
“Parasite” cleaned up at the Oscars - and fans are clearing supermarket shelves of its characters’ favorite snacks.

Several food items featured in the film have seen sudden sales spikes this week on the heels of its historic winning of four Oscars including Best Picture last Sunday.

GS25, Korea’s largest convenience store chain by number of stores, reported that combined sales of Chapagetti black bean noodles and Neoguri spicy noodles surged 61.1 percent on-year between Monday and Tuesday, right after the wins were announced. Cup versions of the two ramen also surged 33.7 percent on year during the same period.

The two instant noodles are main ingredients in a snack dubbed chapaguri, better known online as jjapaguri, which appeared in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. The origin of the recipe is murky, but it’s a dish so popular among Korea’s ramen lovers that it made it into a screenplay that won its own Oscar.

Nongshim, the manufacturer of both products, said Friday that combined sales of Chapagetti and Neoguri between Monday and Wednesday surged 60 percent from the previous week as well. There was a sales spike right after the film’s domestic release in late May, but much smaller at 9 percent on-year.

“We’re currently in the process of reviewing the launch of a complete chapaguri cup noodle in the United States,” said a Nongshim spokesman, adding no launch date had been decided.

From Monday to Wednesday, Nonghim shares rose 10 percent.

The food company is taking full advantage of the movie’s popularity, using it as a marketing opportunity to promote the products overseas. Right after Parasite’s Oscar win, Nongshim uploaded a YouTube video that offered the chapaguri recipe in 11 languages.

“We received an inquiry from the movie’s production team on whether they could use the term ‘chapaguri’ in the film,” the spokesman said. “All we did was say, ‘Yes,’ and luckily the film became a big hit.”

Another product that appears in the movie is Hite Jinro’s alcoholic beverage Filite. According to GS25, a 500-milliler (17-ounce) Filite PET bottle sold 21.4 percent more on year between Monday and Tuesday.

Filite is technically not beer according to Korean law as its malt content is below 67 percent - the minimum threshold for a real beer. It was introduced in 2017, and it’s around 40 percent cheaper than other beers in the domestic market.

In “Parasite,” the wrong-side-of-the-tracks Kims drink Filite early in the movie but switch to foreign beers after they infiltrate the lives of the affluent Park family.

“We sent over the products upon request. It’s ultimately up to the director to decide how they will be used in scenes,” said a Hite Jinro spokesman.

Retail chains are jumping on the “Parasite” bandwagon. Discount chain Emart will offer 10 percent discounts on five packages of Chapagetti and five Neoguri when bought together through Feb. 26.

7-Eleven convenience stores are shaving 13.5 percent off the price of a pack of Chapagetti and Neoguri purchased together, and offering a 20 percent discount on three brands of chips that appeared in the movie.

GS25 put together a “chapaguri set,” which pairs the two types of noodles with 300 grams (0.7 pounds) of beef and sells for 9,900 won ($8.34). At GS25, seven food products that have the word “Bong” in them - referencing “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho - are being promoted. This includes Maxbong sausages and the grape-flavored beverage Bong Bong, which will be offered at 20 percent discounts.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]