Branded Memories of Childhood

Life was so much simpler, with fewer options available for most purposes and so much more predictable too. A quick list of the brands we remember. Do you remember any more?

Driving along the NOIDA-Greater NOIDA Expressway a few days ago, the complexity of life today struck me as quite high, when compared to the relative simplicity of the yester-years. There were fewer choices, more honesty and quite a bit more faith in commercial entities than the marked clouds of distrust we usually see. I’d like to believe life was much easier and quite a bit more predictable. Do any of these brand mentions strike a chord? Have I left out any? Please comment below and we’ll get them in here!

There wasn’t much of a choice of cars apart from the Ambassador and the Premier Padmini, both discontinued. There were others too, such as perhaps the Standard 2000, though these two brands ruled. Scooters too were limited in their offerings. I’m guessing most scooters on the roads were either from Lambretta or Bajaj, the latter having a stable of models,  many more than the former. Motorcycles were popular then too, with Rajdoot, which I remember seeing ads for on the back covers of Indrajal Comics, being quite popular, only descending into its milkman’s best friend avatar many years later. The Yezdi too was revered, not the least for the very distinct beat generated by its engine.

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There was no cooking butter, unsalted butter, fermented butter, white butter, non-dairy butter, low fat non-dairy butter-like spreads and the rest of it. There was but one obvious choice – salted, golden yellow, Amul butter – take it or leave it. Verka was probably around too, but nowhere near us. Jam was Kissan, what else? Homemade soft drinks included Rasna and Roohafza in this category. We rarely saw carbonated soft drinks in people’s homes and these two were the usual choices available, apart from traditional drinks. There was this other concentrate called Trinka too. Most of us didn’t stock carbonated soft drinks at home, did you? Do you remember Gold Spot and Rush? Some households had purchased those soda making machines and we would be fascinated by the rush of gas followed by the unveiling of a bottle of something quite close to a cola!

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Chinese food was rarely more than a chicken or vegetable sweet and sour, noodles and of course, sweet corn soup. I can’t remember chilli-chicken being around, say 30 years ago. Can you? Similarly, Continental food rarely went beyond baked vegetables, Russian salads (mayonnaise, apples, grapes, peas, potatoes), crumbed potato cutlets. An English breakfast was toast and eggs. Dinner party snacks nearly always included grilled chicken livers, little squares of toast with little globs of scrambled eggs topped with little blobs of tomato sauce and pineapple and ration-wala cheese skewered on toothpicks. Tomato Ketchup was Kissan too – it didn’t have any kaddu, you see.

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Kachuachaap Machhar Agarbatti was the only mosquito repellent for years and most locks were Harrisons just as most steel cupboards were Godrej. Weston had a range of televisions, and so did Onida and Videocon though not many easily available brands for watches, were present with the singular exception of HMT. Even Casio was considered premium. There were no brands for children’s clothes to the best of my memory. Do you remember any? Fridges of course had to be Godrej or Kelvinator – It’s the coolest one! Remember those transparent Meltrack blank, audio cassette tapes? Talking of audio, every outdoor function had Ahuja amplifiers and speakers while schoolbags and gumboots were mostly Duckback. Years later, I realised the brand’s name was taken from that old phrase about water off a duck’s back. Shoes were undoubtedly from Bata, where else? Remember the Double Decker chocolate bar or the itni chocolatey Melody?

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Apart from obscure local brands of fountain pens, most of us ended up using Hero – gold capped, Chinese ink pens with little squeezees inside for the ink. Chelpark was the defacto choice for ink, I think. Talking of writing instruments, there were just Camlin or Natraj for pencils, and we loved the fancy white Natraj erasers that superseded the rough, gray ones that blackened notebook page. Soaps included Lifebuoy, Liril and Cinthol among others. Remember Vinod Khanna riding a barebacked horse at the beach? The rumour at the time was that he did the ad for free.

Which others do you remember? Below are a few more ads for you to feel nice and nostalgic about. ;)