The Surprising History of Samanco Ice Cream Fish: From Classic Korean Treats to Global Sensations

March 21, 2023

If you’re a fan of unique and delicious frozen treats, then you’ve likely heard of the Samanco ice cream fish. But did you know that this popular dessert has a surprisingly rich history? What began as a classic Korean treat has now become a global sensation, enjoyed by people all over the world. From its humble beginnings as a simple pastry filled with red bean paste, to the modern-day version featuring creamy ice cream and colorful toppings, the Samanco ice cream fish has come a long way.

Join us on a journey through time as we explore the fascinating history of this beloved dessert, and discover why it has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of so many.

The origins of Samanco

The origins of Samanco can be traced back to the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, where it was known as “Bungeoppang.” Bungeoppang was a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, a popular snack that was sold by street vendors throughout the country. The pastry was created using a special mold made of iron, which gave it its distinctive fish shape. The name “Bungeoppang” translates to “carp bread,” as the fish shape was based on the carp, a symbolic fish in Korean culture that represents good fortune and wealth.

Over time, the recipe for Bungeoppang evolved, with new ingredients and flavors being added to the traditional red bean paste filling. One of the most popular variations was a version filled with ice cream, which was created in the 1980s and quickly gained popularity throughout Korea.

Samanco’s popularity in Korea

Samanco first gained widespread popularity in Korea in the 1990s, when it was introduced by the Lotte Confectionery Company. Lotte was one of the first companies to mass-produce Samanco, and their marketing campaigns helped to make it a household name.

One of the reasons for Samanco’s success in Korea was its unique shape and flavor. The fish-shaped pastry was a novelty that appealed to both children and adults, while the creamy ice cream filling provided a refreshing and delicious taste that was perfect for hot summer days.

In addition to its unique shape and flavor, Samanco’s popularity in Korea can also be attributed to its availability. It was sold in convenience stores and supermarkets throughout the country, making it easy for people to pick up a quick and tasty snack on the go.

Samanco’s unique features and flavors

One of the things that sets Samanco apart from other ice cream treats is its unique shape. The fish-shaped pastry is made using a special mold that gives it its distinctive appearance, which is both playful and eye-catching.

Another unique feature of Samanco is the variety of flavors and toppings that are available. While the original version was filled with red bean paste, there are now dozens of different flavors to choose from, including chocolate, green tea, and strawberry. In addition to the ice cream filling, Samanco is also topped with a variety of colorful sprinkles and sauces, which add an extra layer of flavor and texture.

Samanco’s marketing strategy

The success of Samanco can be attributed in part to Lotte’s savvy marketing strategy. In addition to its eye-catching packaging and unique shape, Lotte also used celebrity endorsements and social media campaigns to promote the product.

One of the most successful marketing campaigns was the “Samanco Challenge,” which encouraged people to take a selfie while eating a Samanco and share it on social media with the hashtag #SamancoChallenge. The campaign went viral, with thousands of people participating and sharing their photos online.

Samanco’s impact on the ice cream industry

Samanco’s popularity in Korea sparked a wave of interest in fish-shaped ice cream treats, with similar products being introduced in other countries throughout Asia. Today, Samanco is enjoyed by people all over the world, and its unique shape and flavor have inspired countless other ice cream products.

In addition to its impact on the ice cream industry, Samanco has also become a cultural icon in Korea. It is often featured in Korean dramas and movies, and is a popular souvenir for tourists visiting the country.

Samanco’s collaborations and limited editions

To keep up with changing tastes and trends, Samanco has collaborated with a variety of other brands and companies to create limited edition flavors and designs. Some of the most popular collaborations include a version of Samanco filled with Oreo cookies, and a special edition featuring characters from the popular animated film “Despicable Me.”

These collaborations have helped to keep Samanco fresh and relevant, while also appealing to new audiences and expanding its fan base.


From its humble beginnings as a simple pastry filled with red bean paste, to the global sensation it is today, Samanco has come a long way. Its unique shape, delicious flavor, and clever marketing have made it a beloved treat for people of all ages and backgrounds.

But Samanco’s legacy goes beyond its popularity as a dessert. It is a cultural icon in Korea, representing the country’s rich history and traditions, as well as its innovative spirit and global reach. As Samanco continues to expand its presence around the world, it will undoubtedly continue to capture the hearts (and taste buds) of people everywhere.

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