The year 1983 brought two major iconic moments for India, and as much we cherish the Indian Cricket Team’s first ever World Cup win, our hearts are also entwined to the debut of Nestle’s Masala Maggi. Although it originated in Switzerland, it didn’t long for Maggi to become a symbolization of India and its culture.
The Maggi Revolution brought a wave of culinary crash courses among millions of Indians, as its hunger-inducing yellow-red packaging and advertisements on television and billboards, propelled youngsters towards the kitchen. For the first time, cooking needn’t feel so intimidating with Maggi’s simple preparation recipe, easily customizable nature, and five to seven minute cook time (regardless of what the tagline says, it’s never two minutes!).
As the 80’s hit, Maggi’s success led to other brands releasing their own version of instant noodles such as ITC’s Yippee, Nissin’s Top Ramen, and Capital Food’s Ching’s Secret. These noodles have an uncanny and impressive ability to merge with almost any part of India’s diverse cuisine across different states, and somehow still shine through flavor labyrinths with the signature taste of masala and soup, making the perfect choice of Cooking 101.
Over the years, Maggi churned out variations such as Sweet ‘n Sour, Capsica, the Hot Heads range, and more, but discontinued them soon. They didn’t have the typical malleability to versatile flavors and spices that served the basis of its hype among amateur, experimental chefs, blended in the country’s cultural milieu as the classic Masala Maggi.
However, the major reason for Maggi being the Master Shifu of Culinary Skills, lies in its adaptive exploration of more than just flavors, rather a renewed sense of self. It provides a safe space to experiment with endless Maggi-licious meals such as cheese Maggi, scrambled eggs on Maggi, chicken chunk Maggi, and more.
The noodles make us more mindful of flavors and subtle differences in condiment quantity, brewing confidence and autonomy in budding culinary journeys with their immaculate, “hard-to-get-wrong” design, empowering them to delve into creativity without assistance, and even if their ideas fail, it doesn’t undo hours of labor, and can be conjured up yet again in merely 10 minutes.
These are not the only reasons for Maggi’s appeal. It brings a time-saving and economic ease, through all circles of Indian society, whether Metropolitan or small town. It’s the life-saver of millions of students who leave home for the first time, and in a budget, allows them to have, not just a much-needed respite from the mess, but also a sense of home and familiarity. Maggi has become so deeply engraved in the Indian socio-cultural tapestry, that even cooking it feels like connecting to your heritage.
In spite of its 2015 taint in popularity, Maggi maintains an unbreakable hold over the Indian culture and hearts. For the millennials who transcend into adulthood, scarred by climate change, mental health crisis, financial insecurity, and a global pandemic, Maggi has become the shoulder to rely on. Its nostalgic aroma takes us down the reminiscence journey to when times were simpler and we were happier, carefree. The memories entwined with it bring permanent comfort and warmth.
The pandemic may have inculcated in us cooking skills to survive if push comes to shove, but the credit of introducing us to our hidden culinary prowess and the art of food goes only to Maggi. Maggi rightfully deserves the status of pan-India snack, with its major contribution to our lives.
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