Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Diget (다이제)

I have loved Diget (pictured above) for almost as long as I have been in Korea, but I have put off writing about it. One reason is because I don't know what to write, because Diget is a simple, aggressively non-exotic snack. There's no sense of "can you believe they eat this here?" with Diget, and so I can't just rely on writing about a unique eating experience in a new culture. The other reason--probably the main reason--I've been hesitant to write about Diget biscuits (I'm using the term "biscuit" in the British sense, because I don't think the words cookie or cracker apply to Diget) is that I feel weird liking them so much and eating them so often. 

I know I just said that Diget isn't strange, so I'll try to explain why liking it could be seen as strange by explaining the pronunciation of the snack's name. Most likely, readers that don't speak Korean would assume that Diget is pronounced something like "digit." I thought the same at first, until I learned to read Korean (slowly and not super accurately, but I'm right about this word), and realized that Diget is pronounced like "digest," but without the "st." And so I had another epiphany: the snack I have been having a love affair with is basically Metamucil in biscuit form, which is embarrassing and reinforces my hypothesis that I am more geriatric than youthful. 

So now I live a life where I can't make eye-contact with the cashier at the convenience store near my school who sees me buy a sleeve of Diget nearly everyday. I have to put my Diget in the hard-to-spot nooks of my desk area so my co-workers don't wonder if I have bowel problems. When students come into the teachers' room and ask what I'm eating, I play coy and tell them it's just a biscuit while covering my stash of Diget with an English Land book. If they knew I was pounding whole sleeves of Diget during my breaks, they would respect me even less than they already do. I would be the guy who can't understand when they make fun of me in Korean or make a decent number two without help. What's worse is that I didn't even start eating Diget because of digestive issues, but it would be more awkward to confront the issue and say, "Oh I don't, like, need Diget for, um, that reason. They just taste really good."

There is a good chance, however, that my paranoia about my Diget intake, and how I'm perceived as a result of it, is unfounded. I'm starting to think that there's no stigma attached with eating Diget here. Despite the fact that the biscuits are clearly marketed as digestive aids, I think that maybe Koreans don't see them as only that. Like how Goonies isn't just for kids. 

So lately I've been watching the cashier ring me up when I buy Diget, looking for her reaction to my purchase. She never seems phased. She never chuckles, sighs, or scoffs. Nothing. Not even the time when I bought two sleeves in one day. Of course, she could be such a pro that she never acts surprised by even the strangest of purchases. She could be the Queen's Guard of Family Mart clerks. 

But my observations don't stop there: I've also seen people eating Diget in public. Just sitting in the park, these people, munching on Diget and watching their kids rollerblade with their jeans tucked into the skates. That being said, everyone I have seen eating Diget in public has been at least 40, and people-of-a-certain-age tend not to care if their snacking choices are weird. Or perhaps they actually need help with their stool situation so badly that they don't have the luxury of medicating in private. Either way, people over the age of 40 aren't exactly the best people to judge snacking normalcy by. I need someone younger and hipper. Enter Bobby.

Bobby is 8 or 9 and comes to Wonderland in the afternoons for a few classes, and then sticks around until his mom gets him at around 930 in the evening. I ironically call him "King of Limbs" because of the way he just flops around all day, unaware of what any of his appendages are doing. 

Here's a true story about Bobby: I was sitting next to him during class once, and he sneezed into his hand seven times. I actually counted seven distinct but rapid sneezes. I told him not to touch me, because he has a habit of just sort of clinging to whatever is near him like a fast-motion vine, and he looked at me, smiled, and rubbed his hands all over my arms. I noticed a sore throat (one of about six since I've been here) coming on later that night. I guess I was dumb to give him the idea, but I'm sure his limbs would have found a way to infect me before he washed his hands no matter what I did. 

Anyway, so Bobby came stumbling into the teacher's room one evening and caught me, mouth full of biscuit and crumbs all over my shirt, snacking on some Diget. He asked what I was eating, and my my tower of biscuits was sitting right there, so I just pointed at the stack with my lips. Bobby then said, "Ooo! Diget!" and held out his hand. I gave him one. He ate it and asked for another. I marveled at what I was seeing--a young, hip kid was eating Diget and loving it. At first I was happy, thinking Bobby gave me proof that Diget is an okay snack for anyone at anytime. But then I wondered whether Bobby's zest for Diget meant anymore than an old person's. He is, after all, the snot-nosed-brat who thought it was funny to wipe his sneezy hand on my arm. 

So. Although I want to believe that Bobby eating Diget without needing to makes it normal for me to eat Diget whenever I want, I still can't entirely shake the idea that the biscuits are mostly seen as a snack for blocked-up baby boomers. 

But that doesn't mean I have stopped--or will ever stop--snacking way hard on Diget. I have found too many things to love about Diget to let my embarrassment or paranoia (both of which, of course, were exaggerated for effect in the preceding paragraphs) stop me from enjoying it. Diget is the perfect snack for my prep period breaks at school, because the biscuits are hearty enough that they give me some energy, but they're sweet enough to feel like treats. Grab a chocolate milk, a pack of Diget, maybe throw in an apple--baby, you got yourself a snack break


  1. I've enjoyed this, and I thank you.

  2. There's nothing I like better than reading about my friend's pooping potential. You're good at everything else, so why shouldn't you be excellent at excretion?! Congratulations!!

    PS. I love Bobby. Please write more about the kids. :-)

  3. Hi!
    I chatted with you earlier today on turntable.fm. I saw the link to your blog, thought I'd check it out and say hello.

    Also, wanted to let you know that I love Diget cookies, too. Plain or choco covered, with milk or alone, they are yummy. I had no idea about their pro-digestive properties, however. So, thanks for making me a little paranoid about any strange looks I get when I buy them next.

    Take care and see you around the turntable,

  4. Hey. I don't know if you know this, but in the UK we have a brand of biscuit called a Digestive. It's not really used for digestive purposes anymore, people in the UK usually dip them in their tea or coffee. A certain amount of dexterity is required so it doesn't drop off in your cup. I was in a Korean grocers here and saw the Diget biscuits. The packaging is very similar. I wonder if Diget is a ripoff of the Digestive. They are very good with a piece of cheese, too. You can also find Chocolate Digestives which are covered in a thin layer of chocolate. They are awesome. Love the blog. Anyone who can write that much about a biscuit is alright in my book.

  5. omg i didin't know all this about diget, i mean i live inc olombia and i love koreans,i went to new york for a concert and i went to a korean market, i wanted to buy some chocolate things and i found digets with chocolate, i dont know korean so i didnt know for what are they specially, though i love them. they are really delicious and im thinking about buying them again no matter what :P
    btw i'm just 16 but i still love them <3

  6. I too love Digets. In Korea the also sell a cookie Digestive by McCormicks. I believe.
    I think they may be made some where else. (England??)

    But the Diiets by Orion are by far the best. Lower fat and calories. Made here in Korea.

    Apparently Orion is in the process of changing the Orion Diget Brand to the Dr. You Brand.
    Apparently at a higher price.

    Who cares? Diget also has Vanilla Sandwich cookies! A little sweeter, but my students love them!

  7. Choco diget by Orion are the BEST! I can't always find them in Korean stores here in Canada...want to send some over??

  8. I also love choco diget! :)

  9. Where do you stay in Seoul? You look familiar!

  10. I like this red one too (without chocolate) but sometimes i feel it has some kind of seafood or fish in it. is that true? i was actually trying to find tht out and ended up on this page.

  11. Digestive Cookies here in Canada, my kids LOVE THEM!!

  12. Yerba mate here in Buenos Aires works like a charm for digestive challenges. You get hydrated and you look cool with your bombilla.

  13. I am 19 with some major poop issues. Do you recommend Diget to speed my bathroom runs?