I have never been a fan of Maggi Noodles.
Neither their colourful ads, which I first saw on my Black ‘n White TV, nor their star ambassadors have gotten me hooked to what are essentially glorified instant noodles. Of course, credit must be given where it’s due. No other snack brand captured a market as Maggi Noodles, thanks to their sharp advertising. In a country where women are expected to wake up early, cook breakfast for the husband and children, then lunch, tea, snacks, dinner, and then eat after everybody else, Maggi provided instant relief. The ads constantly showed you the three easy steps in two easy minutes, and you could provide food to four hungry children waiting on the table (population is also a big problem, mind you!).
With Maggi Noodles caught in the food safety imbroglio, there have been countless articles on the topic. Some chastise the state of food safety in the country. And some others defend Maggi vehemently.
‘Don’t rob us of our childhood’, some of them say. Really? Your childhood hinges on a shitty ten rupee packet of instant noodles? That’s just…May be all the lead has gotten to your head and made you brain-dead. I have no special sympathy for Maggi. Probably because I have no great association with it.
I don’t recollect when I tasted it for the first time. Probably around the time I drank my first Coke, and regretted it half way through. I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste of Maggi, and found it funny the way kids in the ads seemed to be running after it – like coke addicted dolls.
The other reason I never associated myself with Maggi is because I had never really seen a mother give Maggi to her child. At least, my mother never did. I have never seen a mom go, ‘Hmmm, my child’s hungry. Let me make instant noodles for him’. Indian mothers don’t function like that. Firstly, it is rare for you to go hungry if your mother is around. In the slim possibility that you do go hungry (like in case of a cyclone), most Indian mothers will cook you some snacks, and then stir you some Bournvita, and then hand you a paratha with enough ghee to last you an apocalypse, and then three sweets and a glass of water.
I have always assumed that girls connected to Maggi more than boys. Every girl seems to have one phase in her life when she and her friends got together, and went completely berserk – by cooking Maggi at 2 AM in the night #Originality.
When guys feel hungry in the night, they just turn the other side and go back to sleep. Also, the packet of Maggi was never enough. The ten rupee packet wouldn’t be enough for a ten-year-old. And the 5 rupee packet was gulped down in a single morsel, making you feel like a hungry caveman. I was never a fan of the slimy yellow noodles.
The most common defence for Maggi noodles is – Why only Maggi? Why not ban Coke/Pepsi/Cigarettes?
Well, none of them claim to be healthy, nutritious meal substitutes for children. They at least have the decency to be what they are. You won’t see a Coke campaign that says – Healthy Matlab Coca Cola
, or a Yehi Hai Healthy Choice, Baby – Aha!
. They don’t peddle stuff to children while lying to their faces.
When I travelled to my native village in Orissa a few years back, I was shocked to see the penetration of Maggi, through posters, ad campaigns, free offers, and what not! The brand continued to market itself as healthy food (Taste Bhi, Health Bhi) across the nation.
Lead was found in samples of Maggi. Lead is not even an ingredient. It’s not like your neighbourhood milkman who adds some milk to the water to increase the quantity. It was just a case of callous carelessness.
Also, it’s not the first time Nestle has landed in soup for its policies. It has been under the lens for its conduct in poor countries, whether it is selling baby food, or owning large swaths of water resources for bottled water. And either ways, I couldn’t care less. Well, Maggi lovers. I feel bad for you guys, but I’m not really sobbing. Goodbye, Maggi! We were never good friends anyway. You might twist your way back into the market, so good luck to you. I’ll maintain two minutes of silence for you. But like your slimy product, it might just extend to a good eight minutes.