It is a product that was there since I started understanding the worldly place around me – my parents, my kin and my family. It was always there on kitchen shelves as a staple food item along with the regular stock.
It was one of the favourites among all eatables and we loved to have it the way advertisements suggested – the taste that would last longer after eating this stuff that took two minutes to cook and 10 minutes to eat.
Maggi has been there in every stage of life. It was so inherent and essential that we never felt we needed to ask especially for it.
Yes, it was rationed like other food items – but rationing was done to inculcate discipline. Childhood days needed more of it as we were easily won by regular communication materials appearing in print and on television. After all, the childhood urge is almost universal in some cases, on some issues.
The response to have it was more disciplined during teen years. And when I say ‘it’, it means Maggi’s ‘instant noodles’. That also meant eating it became less frequent though it remained an essential part of the shelves. Milk was never my favourite and I tried to have it somehow whenever I was given a glass of it. Now it is natural that ‘whenever’ had to be a regular affair, like it happens.
In our school days, the emphasis was on giving us nutritious food for our growing years and as we were absorbed more by school, teachers and books, we had a sort of seriousness and growing indifference to what was being given to us to eat. As we grew up, there were many other food items that entered our food habit outside our home that we liked to have them regularly. Even Maggi looked and tasted different at eating joints with its different experimental preparations. But, then it was occasional only – eating it outside home – as it was available at home – and tasted perfect with its ‘2 minute recipe’.
In college days, though it continued to remain a household product, it got even reduced preference in my daily routine. Parents and elders had told us from the beginning that we should be disciplined with any food material made from fine flour and the sense had an enhance recall value when we were around 20 – some years before and some years after. Though, they had a soft approach for Maggi as it was from a credible multi-national company and was seen as okay replacement.
Later on, Maggi became for me what it is for many in grown-up, independent, professional years – yes, it became one of the regular replacement food items when time was less or when people didn’t feel like cooking anything else. There were many food items vying for it, but Maggi was the first preference in almost cases. The occasional eating-out experiences, like in my college days, though to lesser extent now due to availability of time, continued.
Maggi is under scanner now. It all began from Uttar Pradesh when an official collected Maggi samples in March 2014. A complaint was lodged after Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), a food enhancer but with negative health effects, was found. Nestle claims and prints on Maggi packets that MSG is not added. A lab in Kolkata later found much higher level of lead than permitted in the same sample. Soon there were reports, sample collections and tests from all over the nation.
Delhi has banned it for 15 days. It biggest single purchaser, Indian Army, has banned it from its canteens. Negative test reports are coming from many states. Many retail chains have taken it off the shelves. Its consumption has plummeted. Even the street food vendors are not stocking it for the time-being. I didn’t find at any shop in my office area.
Maggi is a strong brand. In our lives, it has had a presence in varied ways. And it is not just limited to India. It is a strong brand globally, one of the most profitable for Nestle.
And yes, Maggi is a profitable brand that is associated with nostalgic moments and memories in many lives.
The next course of Nestle’s crisis response should be driven by that.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/