Indian kids of the last quarter of the twentieth century [we sound quite like the historic heroes,don't we?] were gifted in a way, especially in matters of chocolates,candies and toffees.And I take great pride in saying that I belong to that fortunate group who have had the chance to relish on them, no wonder the ones of these days never match my standards.
Chocolates to us never meant Snickers, Hershey, Lindt, Ferraro Rochers or Toblerone.We had a completely different and simple set of criteria and definitions.Dairy Milk, Amul Bar, Five Star orMilky Bar was given when we topped the class or only if we won a competition. Sometimes we were blessed with these lavish treats if we accompanied the birthday boy or girl to distribute chocolates to teachers in the school.
Eatables in the family were considered as properties for an equal share between the number of kids at any given point of time and place.Be it with the sibling,the cousin,the friend,the neighbour’s kid or any kid staring at me and my chocolate on the road.The good sister I always have been,I remember every time someone gave me one I would keep it safely in my skirt pocket and come home to share it with my brother.We have grown up believing the ’Half-Half’ policy,you see.Dentist visits were not so very frequent, for there was an intake limit set by the maternal department and we were given a grant of an exact 2 Rs daily for chocolates after school.
When most of the kids chose MangoMood among the mango flavoured candies I loved the Nutrine Aam Ras, simply because it had a sweet syrup filling its core and this was my birthday toffee almost every year.The Naturo mango bar was a must after school, my Cycle Rickshaw walla Uncle used to buy it for me because he was paid an extra amount every month by my father to do so.
A box of Gems, my brother’s all time favourite was always kept hidden in the refrigerator.He could survive for a whole day eating just them, without any food and water.The addiction somehow till date prevails. Another special of the lots was Percygoli, it came in a dozen odd flavours. Mathur Uncle, my father’s close friend and our then neighbour used to take me to the corner shop down the street only to get me those.I used to sit in the shop staring at the jars until I was given one, or so my mother says.
Coffeebite, the first of its kind was loved by kids and adults alike, it shall always stay as the king of toffees for me.Ravalgon candies were every shop’s essential, I loved the red one.The most hated in my list were the Lactoking or Mahalacto and Kokanaka, because caramel and coconut in toffees were never ever any friends with my taste buds.The Kismi Bar, a cheaper version of chocolate bars which was loaded with elaichi was detested for the same reason.
While Melody was the only toffee in my father’s toffeectionary, there was an another one which tempted us.It came in a red and green wrapper, with Pan Pasand written on it in glittering gold.We were told that it contained substances which are too strong for kids and it could be eaten only by elders,the good story makers that our parents were,but it did not stop us from trying!And believe me this is one of the best toffee ever made,I am yet to find a shop which sells them here.
Swad was meant to ease digestion but we would not leave that too, for it was sold like a toffee and we would often end up with burning tongues. Also I preferred Hajmola’s Albela Aaam over Chulbuli Imli because the tangy taste of the latter made me gulp countless glasses of water.Chocolates of those times were never just sweet.
The rainbow coloured round candies of Poppins were a puzzle, every time I bought them eight out of ten in the packet were yellow and my mother always succeeded in convincing me that they come in special rolls of your favourite colour.Googly came in two flavours,lemon and orange if I am right,both equally gave a heaven feeling.And finally among the chewing gums,long before Big Babool's tortoise sailed up in the air with a balloon and boom boom Boomer's superhero could coil and twist himself there was the king of gum called Chiclet,the taste still lingers.
The twenty five paisa lemon candies, packets of jeerge mitai[fennel candies],kobri mitai[coconut burfis],groundnut chikkis,pepper mint and many more from Kakana Angdi were always in demand,they were the most devoured of all.I buy them even now when I find them.The supreme satisfier of all times for me is the home made lollipop of tamarind,jaggery and cumin seeds,every grandma’s speciality.Nothing like it.
Times have changed,and so have the toffees.Whenever I see any of these brands I make sure I buy some and give it to the children in my apartment,the 'THANK YOU' they say no cheque or card can buy.Wonder why we give up these priceless little joys as we grow older.Blood turns saccharine and bonds more bitter.Remember Mr.Forrest Gump saying "Life is like a box of chocolates.You never know what you‘re gonna get",well most of us rather chose the contradictory and can consider this funny statement I found somewhere-“Life is not like a box of chocolates, it is more like a jar of jalapenos, what you do today might burn your ass tomorrow!”.I do not refuse to agree.