Back in the 1920s, in the city of Lambayeque in northern Peru, a baker by the name of Victoria Mejia decided to supersize a popular local confection. Her target was the alfajor, a treat typically made of two round cookies surrounding a sweet filling, normally dulce de leche.
For Mejia, the alfajor wasn’t quite big or tasty enough. And so she found a large, rectangular mold, which she filled with alternating layers of cookies and fillings. Between crispy sheets, she slathered on Peruvian manjar blanco (a creamy, sweet spread) and pineapple or strawberry preserve. The result was a towering, seven-layer treat.
The new cookie was a hit in the city of Lambayeque. For a while it was simply known as the alfajor de Lambayeque, but that all changed when another supersized phenomenon appeared in the city. In 1933, local theaters were showing the film King Kong, and witty cookie-lovers started using the name of the towering ape to refer to the chunky alfajor. The name stuck.
Today, big blocks of King Kong, some weighing one or two pounds, are sold throughout the Lambayeque region, particularly in the city and nearby Chiclayo. Some are brick-like rectangles, while others are circular. The fillings also change, but typically include plenty of manjar blanco. The inclusion of a layer or two of pineapple, strawberry, or other sweet, fruity filling depends entirely on the baker’s preference. Some King Kongs are made to order, but if not, it’s easy to look at the cross-section to see if the fillings meet your approval.
A number of factories in the Lambayeque region are now dedicated to the production of King Kong. These producers, along with crowds of local residents, get together each July for the King Kong festival. And most years, they try to beat the previous year’s record for the biggest King Kong ever built, which typically weighs more than 2,000 pounds with a length of 20 feet or more.