Growing Up

Story of how Maggi noodles brought happiness in my life

Childhood memories of Maggi & my Love affair with Maggi


You probably cook Nestle’s Maggi noodles, eat it and forget it. Hardly so in my case. This article is to explain and celebrate the importance of two-minute Maggi noodles in my life (and my sisters’).

I first came to know about Maggi noodles in 1985. Back then I was studying in 4th standard in Seventh Day Adventist school, Kohlapur.

Nestle had introduced Maggi in India in 1983 and by 1985 students with rich parents had started bringing them for lunch. I first tasted it when my best friend brought it for lunch one day. It is a pity I don’t remember the name of this friend who introduced me to Maggi, but then thats where the romance lies. He made me fall in love with Maggi noodles and walked away.

“How do you eat this?” I remember asking.

“Simple. Just hold a strand between your thumb and index finger, keep it high in the air and slide one end inside your mouth.”

We were late for our next class. Lunch had taken up a long while that day – and why not? Each strand had to be separated, held up and slid inside the mouth slowly.

With time, I became an expert at eating noodles. To tell you the truth, when my friend wasn`t looking I would cheat. I would pick up a couple of strands and stuff them into my mouth.

In three months time we had to leave Kholapur in Maharashtra and settle down in Ballygunge Military Camp, Kolkata for the next three years. It was the most harrowing moment for me. I didn`t mind leaving behind my friends, and the four hens I had been rearing in our garden for I knew my father would anyway kill them (and eat them) before we shifted. The four hens, that is.

I was most worried about missing out on Maggi noodles. In Kolkata, will I find a friend who would bring Maggi Noodles for lunch?

Our move to Kolkata coincided with my father buying ECTV – though this TV`s screen was only 15 inches diagonally, the television itself was 40 inches wide. It was so wide that when my cousins visited, we played table tennis` on its top even as the rest of the family watched Doordarshan.

It was on this ECTV that I first saw Nestle`s advertisement for Maggi noodles. When it appeared again, I pulled my mom before the television set and said: “Mom! Look! Maggi Noodles! This is what Vikas Talpade used to bring for lunch.”

OK, there! I remembered his name.

“Ohh…what is it?” my mother asked.

“It is called Maggi noodles and is very tasty. Can we buy it?”

“No baby. That must be costly. We don`t make that much money, yet.” The ‘yet` in her sentence gave me hope.

“But father is always at work. Doesn`t he earn money?”

“Listen, why don’t I make kheer for you? You and your sisters love it, don’t you?” When I close my eyes I can still visualize the expression on my mother’s face at that moment. It was what I today know as please-accept-my-offer-for-I-have-no-other-choice expression. But back then I didn’t understand such expressions.

When I kept staring at her, she continued: “Don’t you think it makes more sense to spend that money on other things? You will anyway end up finishing it in two minutes.”

“But mom, when they say two minutes it is not about eating. It is the cooking time.”

My mom just smiled and went back into the kitchen. I stood there waiting for the advertisement to appear again. I loved the way Maggi’s advertisement was shot – the steam escaping from the yellow bowl in which Maggi noodles was being served made me yearn for it every time I saw it. I swear I even got the aroma each time Maggi’s ad appeared on TV.

First Maggi noddles pack we cooked at home

I must have watched the advertisement at least a hundred thousand times before I bought my first pack of Maggi noodles – sometime in 1994. It was my first scholarship money from school.

With great pride I walked into the house carrying a Maggi Noodles pack. My two sisters, my mother and I spent an hour looking at the Maggi Noodles pack and trying to understand how we should cook it. There were arguments on the approach to be taken, there were agreements on the risks involved. Everybody wanted it to work out fine. After all, it was going to be our first bowl of Maggi made at home.

My father was then posted in Akhnoor, Jammu and wasn’t in the kitchen that day to give his opinion on how the single pack of Maggi noodles should be cooked. Everybody else had a say.

I remember my sister, an athlete at school, saying: “Looks like cooking Maggi noodles is not a marathon but a 100 meters race. If you make a mistake, there is no time to correct it.”

She was right. My mother poured more water than needed and over cooked it. After eating the ten strands that each member got we came to the conclusion that cooking Maggi noodles wasn`t an easy task.

Maggi noodles packs I bought with my first salary

In January 1999, I got my first job – with The New Indian Express. On Feb 5, after withdrawing my first salary and buying a shirt for my father and a saree for my mother, I bought five packs of Maggi Noodles. One each for each family member. After all, it was a day to celebrate.

Once again, we had a conference of sorts where it was decided that this time my elder sister would cook. She did a fairly good job. The Maggi in my bowl wasn’t soggy or too hard – just the right amount of water had been added. My father had retired by now and he also joined us at the dining table. He took a mouthful of Maggi, enjoyed a few seconds of bliss and turned to us and said, “Wow, this Maggi thing tastes good. Why haven’t we had this till now?”

At this my sisters and I looked up at my mother and let out a smile. After all, now we had grown up and understood why she would suggest kheer every time we wanted to buy Maggi. My younger sister came to my mother’s rescue, “I know dad! How did we even miss this?!”

We decided to do this often – a whole family get together with Maggi as the main attraction. For the next few months every time I would walk in with my salary, I would have five packs of Maggi noodles with me.

After a few months of the Maggi ritual, we forgot all about it and got busy with our lives.

Maggi love never dies, it just goes down deeper

Now the innocent yearning for Maggi isn’t there. One doesn’t have the urge to eat Maggi every day. It doesn’t double up as a evening snack any more. But when I see a pack of Maggi, in all its vibrant yellow glory, it starts talking to me. Like a long lost lover you suddenly bump into in the shopping mall.

“Hey, remember the good old days?” the pack of Maggi would ask me.

“Of course, how can I forget the first kiss.”

“You just couldn’t take me off your head,” the pack of Maggi would continue feeling proud.

I would just chuckle, and say “Yes…now when I think about it, it does sounds funny.”

With its pride hurt, the pack of Maggi would reply: “No, it wasn’t funny.

In order to salvage its pride, the pack would continue, “And remember the day you took me home to your mother? I loved it.”

I would smile back. For the memories this conversation has brought back are so strong that I can’t ignore them. I have to feel her warmth yet again, even if for a day. I reach out for the talking Maggi pack and put it in my shopping cart for a one-night stand.

Nestle started to advertise Maggi 2-minute Noodles during the ‘Hum Log` broadcasts on Doordarshan. Just in case you didn`t know in 1984-85 ‘Hum Log` reached 60 million TV viewers. Nestle`s plan paid off and soon enough the volume of demand for Maggi Noodles increased from none in 1982 to 1,600 tons in 1983. It would go on to become 15,000 tons in 1998. I don`t have the 2008 figures, but I wouldn`t be surprised if it is in the 50,000 tons range. The marketing of Maggi Noodles became a case study on how to market a new product. Taking a cue from Maggi`s success, other companies started thronging Doordarshan for program sponsorship. Thus, advertising rates went up and advertising revenues started pouring in for Doordarshan.

51 Comments

  1. hey I lived the maggi way of liife between 2000 and mid 2007 and the damn thing is more addictive than any other substance I’ve tasted/snorted. I have quit successfully and now it feels good. Table Tennis on the ECTV, sooper. Multi utility…HUH!!!

  2. Aravind: addictive for sure….in my case its due to the circumstances. between maggi and coke, I wud anyday snort coke. But the last time i did I almost drowned…all the coke got into my nose and started bubbling..

  3. Ishani: Why blame Maggi when you are the one thats eating it? It is like a lion saying: “The worst part of eating deer is that I don’t like it but still I keep hunting them down!”

    Wud you believe the lion?

  4. Nice Read!! Get back some memories from my childhood…I remember even my mom didnt buy us maggi when we asked her….instead she got us the cheaper chinese noodles and told us that this was much better than that…i had tasted maggi from my friends then and wanted it :(…Later maggi had organised a quiz competition in my school and I had told a question that was passed to the audience…and phew i got a maggi packet as prize….was so happy…I remember mom cooked it on a saturday morning and all four us had a taste of it…it tasted different thats all was our opinion.

  5. Radha: if only i was as lucky. when i answered a question as part of the audience in school…they just gave me a book – Hardy Boys and the Mystery of the Crooked Arrow!

  6. I once won the 4 pack family pack in a quiz competition, I know a strange prize ..it was sposnored by them you see.. my mom dilligently gave it each of our other 4 neighbours. She even convinced me that I had it already.. and to say I won a quiz contest…

    but yeah, those noodles don’t taste all tht great these days..

  7. I don’t know how they claim its so simple to cook. I always end up cooking with incorrect amounts of water. They should supply a measurement cup or something with every pack.
    Btw, once we had gone to a quiz competetion and they gave all of us maggi packs. We got so hungry that we started eating them naked. Who said it takes 2 mins to cook. Eh 🙂

  8. btw I tated Maggi Cuppa Mania last week… Not very bad… though not as tempting as it looks on TV… and expensive also for 25 bucks

  9. @jammy you a mallu right..you should know iddi appam or else ask wifey 😀 .. for a few years I was under the impression that other people put color in their maggi to make it yellow… mom was smart of course.. I was happliy gliding in the other end of the spectrum.. was only 6 then hehe..

    @urv why did you guys get naked to eat it?

    it seems maggi as quiz prizes were quite a rage.. though I can’t understand how hehe.. I know I know.. marketing

  10. I should read the post thrice before commenting.. sry urv .. I got what’s naked now..

    but still it was quite funny to read we ate maggi naked.. hehe

  11. @PRG @Roflin
    Yeah, I would have but I am a considerate guy. I did not want to put villians like Gulshan Grover out of business.

  12. i have a lovely maggi moment also. when I was seven, my best friend used to bring maggi for tiffin. how my mouth used to water! even though i got quite exciting tiffins myself i used to always want the maggi. We didn’t get maggi at home at all…not until i grew up and went away to college; and then i saw that my brothers and sisters ate maggi at home everyday!!! 🙂 i’m sure all Indian kids have some maggi moments! and varghese and mohak have maggi moments all their lives 😛

  13. Urv: started eating them naked? If you are a guy I would understand…and pray like hell that you are one.

    And i totally agree that cooking maggi isn’t an easy task. After 2 years of regular cooking did i get the right amount of water, right!

  14. snigdha ghosal: actually i tried eating maggi without cooking…but I couldn’t seperate the strands and got frustrated when they broke…I think thats when I decided to give up eating maggi raw.

  15. Roflin: No mate my wife is a Mallu I am from Tamil nadu.

    your mom definately is smart knew how to handle a kid desperate for maggi – a costly snack back then.

    I know…I also didnt know that maggi as quiz prizes were quite a rage…..Maggi’s strategy perhaps to reach out to students

  16. Suprisingly even my first memory of eating maggi noodles is from school. Maggi was holding quizzes in schools in those days and they gifted all the school kids one packet of maggi each:). Post this , there were other brands like bournvita and nestle who tried this mode but werent so sucessful.Jammy: You do manage to pick up the most interesting topics to write about.I am sure everone who had read this is nostalgic abt ” the first time they tasted maggi “

  17. Sam: ha ha ha…I am not surprised at all. all of us poor guys ate maggi given to us as quiz contest prizes!!

    Sam, I just write abt stuff that happened in my life…and unfortunately all my readers also seem to be above 30 😉 and have experienced the same thing!

    I wouldnt be surprised, if blog posts would be used to write the history of an era….at a later stage!

  18. Mystique: in thise case you would have been unique if you had said that you didnt win a maggi packet as prize. Alas…you just lost an opportunity to stand out in the crowd!

  19. Cool. This feels like Yaadon ki Baarat. I actually won a quiz competition in 4th Std sponsored by Maggi, and we got 24 packets of Maggi, 2 Ketchuop Bottles, 2 toy cards and loads of other stuffs.If I had known Jammy them, sure would have sent a few to him…

  20. Hi Jamshed…

    Ouchmytoe rockz…n after reading ur blogs one thing is for sure that journalism has lost a funny guy which it needs the most at present times…havin said that i would like to add that the DEFINITELY is spelled as DEFINATELY…chek the top most bar of your web pages… 😉

  21. nice blog but u lied. once u say u cant remember friends name and at other place u say vikas talpade .now will u clarify Jammy ?

  22. Wow you actually made that sentimental! Well almost… towards the end you betrayed your childhood idol!
    I still prefer Magi for Dinner most days 🙂

  23. Hi Jammy,
    I got a wind of this article in my friend Abhijit’s website and was curious to read it. I could relate to your experience as I grew up the same time as you and had the same experience while cooking Maggi for the first time. My mother refused to cook it and I made a horrible stuff out of it, overcooked it and all.It was inedible, yuck! and we threw out the entire pack of three.It was way back in 1986.And I didn’t touch Maggi for another, say,18 years (I only had Top Ramon) until I was posted in Bombay for 4 months and survived on Maggi. What’s more, I started liking it and created different ways to eat them.And, guess what, for my current posting in Brisbane, the first thing I bought on the day I landed here was a giant pack of Maggi.How would people like us survive without the good old Maggi I wonder!
    Thanks for this wonderful article and giving a chance to relive those Maggi memories.

  24. Ur maggi story brought nostalgic feelings within me.

    Our first attempt at making the 2 minute noodles was no less bad. Mom used more water than recommended. Also she spilled some extra salt. Noone was able to savour the dish that day.

    Years later, when I came to delhi that I was able to relish maggi for the first time.

  25. Wonderful….. reminds me of my ol’ school memories of maggi and hum log…. i too tasted it 1st at school n i too slurped each strand slowly…. just like the ad.

  26. wow you were in Kolhapur gr8 coz I am from Kolhapur and I had too clean Papa’s car, dust windows and furniture in the house etc. to get some pocket money which I used in buying Maggi All my visits to Janta Bazar (my 1st love for mall) the only thing I ever bought was Maggi and cooked them well too.
    I am very lucky to have kids and husband who they love Maggi and I totally find it convenient to cook it for all those rainy days in the kitchen.
    We also love Kachaa maggi.

    I could go on maggi but is your blog ………..and its very nice of you to write these small thing in life.
    Radhika

  27. i remember the first time maggi was brought home. It tasted bad due to extra amt of masala used for cooking. Every one dismissed it as bad…though i felt that ..there is mistake in cooking….

    i remember i bought RASNA orange after my maggi purchase. I was disappointed with the concentrated small bottle inside the big pack. i tasted the concentrated liquid and almost vomitted.

  28. Hey, i couldnt agree with you more, Maggi noodles has stood the test of time, even today after 25 years India is one of the largest consumers of maggi noodles. this is one thing i have grown up with. and no matter whic way you cook or eat maggi you can never go wrong with it, i think it tastes great any way. i was just going through their site http://www.meandmeri.in and the one thing that struck me reading through the stories and recipes people have shared there is that Maggi is the one thing common to every Indian household, it is available in the remotest of areas and is a favorite in all parts of India. Noddles for us means Maggi, it rocks!!

  29. “……..my best friend (and I forget his name now)”….

    “This is what Vikash Talpade used to bring for lunch.”

    Contradictory!!!

  30. Drifted to the post after Jammy’s recent publication on FB.
    Abe after 3 years of research could not understand that introducing friend’s name in the beginning of the article might have divulged the attention of the reader away from Maggi!
    Nevertheless, each one of us have their own story associated with Maggi! This one is better because Jammy threw some trivia in the curry as well!

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