Taegeukdang has always been there. It started its business in 1946 and moved to the current location in Jangchoong-dong in 1973. Still maintaining the same location for over 40 years, Taegeukdang is truly not an ordinary bakery. Not only has the location, logos, packaging and baking methods remained the same, it is a bakery with a tradition incomparable to any other bakery.
Sweets among sweets. Western sweets seemed to have been more popular than bread when this slogan came out. In 1990, I used to pass by Taekeugdang everyday while commuting to Paradise Building right next to it. But I entered Taegeukdang only a few times. The candy packaging labeled ‘kaandy’(an outdated Korean pronunciation of candy) seemed to imply a bakery of the past that did not know how to cope with changes of its time. The logo on the cardboard box for Monaca ice cream was in a faded orange color, and it did not seem to be attractive back then.
Moreover, a huge aquarium that was dominating the middle of Taegeukdang’s hall made the ambience look like an outdated cafe for seniors to pass time. So, it did not seem to be a place for us, journalists, to start leading the trend. I visited the place only once in a while to buy jeonbyung sets (Korean traditional sweet pancakes) while on the way to interview elderly people.
All of a sudden, Taegeukdang’s Monaca ice cream began to be on everyone’s lips. Taegeukdang, after its renovation, even became a hot place amongst trendsetters thanks to its long tradition. Even though it maintained the same old styles of interior décor, logos, slogans and even cake decorations.
When I heard that it went through a renovation, I thought it would benchmark a famous bakery in Paris or London and end up becoming like a fancy European bakery where butter scents prevail. However, Taegeukdang properly interpreted the vintage code. It reopened in almost the same original look after washing off dirty areas, smoothing out uneven places, and repainting faded areas.
It adheres to old style baking methods and packaging methods of bread and cakes. ‘Getting Inspired by archives to create something new’ – is what world famous luxury brands have always emphasized. This has successfully applied to Taegeukdang as well. Seventy year old Taegeukdang archives must have had new and progressive elements from today’s perspective. The font and illustrations of Taegeuk bread are truly outstanding.
The butter cake has also kept its place, which once was degraded to inedible food with the advent of fresh cream cakes. Rose decorations on butter cakes reappeared as well, which used to be thrown away as they were made by artificial food coloring. It is their solid confidence that brought back the butter cake for nostalgia and vintage sensibility.
I would like to write a long story about Taegeukdang Castella when there is an opportunity, so I will skip that part this time. But just looking at Taegeukdang Castella makes me recall numerous different stories. Taegeukdang Castella should be much more recognized and better treated than the recent trend, Taiwanese King Castella.
‘Chi-bon cakes’ are chiffon cupcakes.
There are complimentary stickers that are popular among youngsters and complimentary postcards that can be used as greeting cards.
The packaging design of jeonbyung sets reflect the exterior décor of Taegeukdang.
Different kinds of jeonbyung – Seoul Jeonbyung, Mugunghwa Jeonbyung (Mugunghwa is a national flower of Korea, which is from a hibiscus family).
Sticky rice cake sets that have Mugunghwa painting on the package seem to be suitable gifts for students who are about to take the university entrance exam (it is customary for students to consume sticky food for good luck before the exam in Korea).
Taegeukdang Monaca ice cream. The milk flavor feels richer than before.
A variety of Monaca ice creams – basic wafer shapes are Taegeukdang Monaca, round shapes are sticky rice Monaca, cup shapes are Taegeukdang ice cream, and etc.
The whole family goes on a nostalgic trip thanks to the 70-year old Taegeukdang Monaca and Castella.