Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Candy for the '90s Dandy

It’s the 29th of August already. Despite having written a post on this blog around 12 days back, the pressure of writing a piece every two weeks builds up like the burden of getting a 26 year old daughter married as soon as the end of the month deadline approaches near. With my enthusiasm levels at the lowest on a scale from Alok Nath to Prabhu Deva, I sit down to type another piece and fulfill my bi-monthly duties.

In recent news, I have passed the set of CWA papers I gave in June this year. A little party to celebrate the same is yet to be planned, but I thought it’s just to let my taste-buds engage in some foreplay with sugary somethings from the local grocery store. A trip down to the local sardarji uncle’s shop ended with a small purchase of a Cadbury’s 5-Star. Even though my body got enough calories to last a 30 second orgasm, my tongue was left with a longing for an old lover. It’s depressing how in spite of the rise in per capita disposable income in the Indian economy over the past one decade, the sweets and confectionery market has plummeted to the level of offering kids with products wearing taglines like “do rupaye mein do laddoo”. It’s sad how today’s children don’t even know about the wonders that were “Pan Pasand” and “Ravalgaon sugar boiled candies”. To commemorate some unsung heroes from the time when icing on the cake meant white cream topped with a little pineapple piece, I bring to you a list of some candies that my tongue still identifies as its childhood best friends.


This, my friend, is the grand-daddy of all digestive “tablets” in the world! Swad has always been one of my favorite candies of all time, and therefore, deserves no lesser than the first spot on this list. An elder cousin of Hajmola candy, Swad brought with itself a sense of Indian-ness that Hajmola candy can never match. The silver packet bordered with a checkered brown pattern was Madhubala, if Hajmola’s pink or green wrapper was Preity Zinta. It had a taste stronger than all the other digestive candies of its generation, and was loved by my dadaji and me alike.

Swad not just made my gall bladder wet with excitement, but also gave Pooja Bhatt an opportunity to star in a TV commercial, thus keeping her mind off movie scripts that involve people like Emraan Hashmi rubbing their sand-paper on half naked ladies.

Swad has slowly been left alone by its grand-children who are too busy selling tattoos under their skins, housed in fancy jars that adorn the shelves of a local grocer. Has it died a silent death? I guess not. It may still be fighting the last few months of its existence in a remote village, near its manufacturer’s factory.


From a big piece of candied jal-jeera called Swad, to little pellets of gastrous joy, our markets used to be full of orange packets with black polka dots that sprawled across the local shop entrance like prayer flags at a Tibetan monastery. Fatafat was my small packet of happiness, the digestive qualities of which my innocent brain did not care for. My love for Fatafat was selfless. I would pop one pellet at a time, never all at once, and relish the tangy flavor slowly. It was Fatafat that introduced me to the usage of “khatta” with “kaala”.

Another variant of packed digestive pills was Chatmola that sold in a yellow and red wrapper. Everyone’s favorite “Appu the elephant” adorned the front of its wrapper and made the kids jump with joy.

I still manage to spot Fatafat at a store or two, but Chatmola is no longer a survivor in the market. If you were to get me a nice birthday present, please pick up some packets of Fatafat. Phir treat pakki!

Ravalgaon Candy

Ravalgaon candies were India’s answer to Fox’s. Its transparent cover was the first to teach me that these sweets are “sugar-boiled”. They are available in a variety of colors like yellow, red and orange. My favorite among them used to be the orange; I think because that was the only flavor I could identify. There’s one with a blue cover too, but I've never been able to tell the difference between the tastes of the blue one from the yellow.

Pan Pasand and Mango Mood were other offerings from Ravalgaon, and ranked higher in my list as compared to their competing products by Nutrine and Parry’s. They still sell in the market, but face stiff competition from Cadbury’s and Parle. The multinationals may be doing a good job at marketing their products, but their products can never match the panache with which Ravalgaon candies shower with a bang from a balloon over a young boy's birthday cake.

Phantom Cigarettes

I remember the red pack of cigarettes that would open up to 10 sticks of sugar colored in red at one end. Phantom Cigarettes were peppermint flavored candies that were not minty enough to attract girls off Close-up billboards, but still macho enough to make little boys believe that they had a chance with.. um, Minnie Mouse?

I remember one of my cousins buying me a pack of these “cigarettes” on a trip to the market close to my aunt’s house. We loved its taste, and the novelty quotient it sold on, but I cannot forget how disapproving my parents were of the so called candy. So, my experience of machofying myself with a Phantom in my mouth was short-lived, but I think I wouldn’t mind seeing it in the market again. Or maybe I will. It’ll have a bad effect on the psyche of kids.

Shit, have I really grown that old!

Kismi Bar

Parle’s Kismi Bar was an inexpensive substitute to a chocolate. I believe it tasted of cardamom, and was more of a “toffee” flattened out into the shape of a bar. For about a rupee or two for a bar, it was a good option during times of sudden sugar cravings.

The red cover of the product displayed a silhouette of a suited man being kissed by a beautiful lady. What makes me call her “beautiful” is probably the fact that her shape was colored in white, in contrast to the man, who was a shadow of black. Go ahead and judge the shameless racist in me if you want to. I come from the land of Kismi, where cows are considered holier than the ride of Yamraj, the buffalo.

Jelly Belly

If you ask my parents about my favorite dish as a kid, I bet the pack of Brown & Polson custard powder in my kitchen that they will say “jelly”. A die-hard. No, a die-jiggly jelly fan, as a six year old, I would demand jelly be made in our kitchen every single day of the week.

To save her the pain of making jelly every day, my bua would get me a pack of Jelly Belly from her way back home after office every evening. I would tear off the plastic cover and suck the whole jelly off the cup in an instant. Candle-shaped jelly sticks were soon a rage with the other kids in my colony, but my loyalty remained towards the Rex Jelly that was shelved in our kitchen or the little shivering shots of “Jelly Belly”.

Most of these much loved sweets are no longer seen. I miss them. Yes, I do. But for me, there’s always a bit of fresh Jalebi to love. Happy Sweet-toothing.

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  1. Well said.
    Your description took me back to my childhood days.
    And in this state of being Nostalgic; I would want to add a few more candies of that time:

    ROLACOLA (red and black cover)
    BREAK Chocolate (white cover with grey stripes and break written in red)
    NATKHAT (yellow packet with a white smiley face)
    WALNUT Chocolate (an oval shaped chocolate with red,blueand green cover with silver polka dots)

    You get @@@@ jalebis for writing this. :)

    1. I've heard of RolaCola and Natkhat. Loved them as a kid. But have no clue about Break or Walnut. I'll look up for pictures on Google :)

  2. Poppins, where does that figure?

    1. Oh yes, Poppins too. But Poppins is still very active in terms of television advertising.

  3. this deserves 10 jalebis my boy! @@@@@@@@@@!!!! and no! swad is not dead! i had it recently at a dhaba in dehradoon! this is by far the best thing you have done in life!

    1. I'm so glad to know that you like it so much.
      The hunt for Swad is on!

    2. Swad aint the same thing now.
      Seems more like a cheap knockoff with lots of rock salt in it.

      Btw.. there was this hajmola candy as well.. light brown wrapper with dark brown polka dots and candyesque clown with a conical hat.


  4. Forgot to tell you- I bought a lot of Swaad "tablets" from some shady local store when I went to Haridwar. Me and my sister spit it out in 2 seconds man- it was really bad!
    I guess quality has gone down over time.
    Or maybe we liked it a lot in childhood, and now it just seems weird because we're used to the new shit we get these days. Kinda like Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.
    PS Finally I read your post. I deserve jalebi treat from Peshawar when I cya next.

    1. Really? You said you bought a whole packet. Save some for me to taste. Anyway, you get fancy stuff at the Schlumberger Cafe :D

  5. Fortunately, some of them are still available in shops. That said, would have been good to see photos of all of them up here. Guess I'll just have to go back to the 'You grew up in the 90's' page on Facebook.

    There is however, a new favorite that you should try. It's called Falero, made by Mapro of the jam and jelly fame. It will change your life!

    1. That's a good tip. I -should- put more pictures in posts like this one.
      Already had, sir. The green mango flavor :)

  6. @@@@ FATAFAT!!! my tongue still rolls around my mouth with the mere mention of its name ( and yes blame my ignorance of the other meaning of these words to the appetizing effect it has )
    When toblerone chocolates were only meant for those who had relatives pouring from US every now and then, MilkyBar and Perk were the favourites

    1. I've never liked Milkybar too much. It's Aastha and argam's favorite though :P

  7. Just a few days back my friend and i were discussing this..and you have covered almost all the sweets we reminiscinced about. Few more for the list: Rola cola, Ring candy, Lipstick candy and Magic Pop..*sigh* Simpler times.

    1. Oh yes! Ring Candy and Magic Pop. Skiti, you're still such a kid to remember them. I love kids. Whoo! :D

  8. Replies
    1. Oh yes. The red box. What were they made of though? What was the crunchy thing inside the chocolate?

  9. Anyone remembers a pink wrapper Candy?? It used to have some sort of filling... Wrapped like mango bite...

  10. Anyone remembers a pink wrapper Candy?? It used to have some sort of filling... Wrapped like mango bite...

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If you had 5 Jalebis, how many would you give me for writing this post?

None = You don't deserve any >:O
@ = Soggy and stale! :(
@@ = Stale! :|
@@@ = I'll need a samosa to digest this with! :P
@@@@ = Sweet and Crisp! :)
@@@@@ = I'm opening you a Halwai Shop! :D