Last night I dreamt of Maggi. Twisted yellow curlicues floating in a viscous brownish sauce. Ideally consumed without peas or carrots or other sidey attempts at adding on "nutrition". What Maggi does best is fill tummies, especially the kind that are perennially growling - in hostels.
Maggi's ads always feature mummies and bachchalog but I bet a good deal of their sales come from hostel junta tired of aloo in its nth incarnation. If you've ever been subject to the vagaries of a hostel "mess" (which is what the food tastes like!), you'd agree Maggi is a gourmet option.
It says "noodles" right next to "2 Minutes" on the jhataak yellow pack but that's not strictly true. Maggi is Maggi and dhabas outside engineering hostels take pains to specify that on their menu.
BITS Pilani makes a mean Maggi (with paneer), guaranteed to warm you up on a chilly desert night. Inmates of Sophia college hostel have been known to make Maggi on an electric iron coz that's the only instrument they have to "cook" with. So you see, Maggi is a sort of institution, despite the fact that they remind some people of what earthworms would look like swimming in garam masala!
Kuch ho gaya hai
The reason I'm inspired to write this ode is the recent introduction of Maggi "vegetable atta noodles". I tried them out recently and must say - they are surprisingly good.
I use the word 'surprisingly' because in the past the makers of Maggi have introduced several extremely sad line extensions. Such as: tomato flavour (yuck!) and chocolate flavour (yuckier!!). Brief abominations which the general public may not remember but I am alive to testify they did happen.
Both were good 'ideas' probably thrown up during focus group discussions with housewives. They just didn't taste good. Or go with the concept of noodles. The chocolate flavour, when cooked, was about twice as gross as Shefali Zariwala's post Kaanta Laga video.
Then, they introduced a 'Chinese' variant. Which was not all that bad except it was rarely available and had to be cooked differently (you boil the noodles and then add the tastemaker and some orange coloured oil).
I don't think think Maggi Chinese quite took off. It became one of those novelty products you try once but then don't like enough to keep buying.
People who really wanted 'Chinese' bought hakka noodles. And hostelers never warmed to it either.
In the interim the folks at Maggi got paranoid over rival "smoodles" and went and changed the recipe! Crores of rupees were spent to inform consumers they should use "2 cups of water" instead of "1 1/2" while cooking. Maybe the noodles even started tasting better but there was one big problem - it wasn't Maggi anymore!!!
Phir kya hua? They brought back good old as-we-know-it Maggi. Like Coke brought back its original formula. Like Kyunki Saas brought back Mihir. Like Channel [V] brought back Nonie and Trey (OK, they didn't ... but don't you wish???)
Old vs new
The new 'health bhi, taste bhi' Maggi gets my thumbs up as a mom. I'm happy to be able to send Maggi in my daughter's tiffin box once a week without feeling any guilt.
Yes, the atta noodles are more filling and they don't leave an icky yellow residue in the pan. And from a purely taste point of view - they're better.
A whole new generation will probably grow up on atta noodles. But for me, the original 'yellow' Maggi will always be special. Maggi as comfort food. Maggi as a taste and smell which brings back many moods and memories. Maggi when you are starving - and there are no interesting leftovers - at 2 am.
May both continue to prevail!
End of (unpaid) promo.