Contrary to popular belief, this list extends beyond the average middle-class home. It encompasses memories that we have often associated with our childhood, school and even college days. These brands from Kerala have remained at the tip of our fingertips and tongues for their familiar taste, smell and feel. Though many new brands have emerged, they cannot replace our connection with any on this list.
To win a pen fight or ace an exam, we always had a lucky pen. Chances are high that yours was a Cello ball pen. Famous for being lost and found, this is the pen you would ‘borrow’ from a friend only to lose it within the first hour. Surprisingly, the caps of these pens were either very loose or tight making it easy to pass chits and obviously use the cap-less pen for the year-round. This is also the pen you’d find lying around your house near the calendar or phone book only to have magically vanished when you need them most.
Remember when we made our way to the peedika hoping the shopkeeper would give us Mango Bites instead of balance change? Over the years, the cost has increased and new flavours have come out. Nevertheless, the yellow wrapper with green edges has brought the taste of mango to our tongues and the roof our mouth for years making it our favourite (only next to eclairs).
We anxiously waited for Balarama comics and magazines more than any exam result. While most editions came with special posters and contests, some of them brought stickers along. A few small ones or one large one, you would search endlessly for the perfect place to stick these. From the almirah to your tiffin box or on top of your school books, the aim would be to endlessly flaunt them in front of your friends. As time passed, they became less important to us but have been permanently etched on our childhood things and memories.
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The tagline ‘Paal enna Milma’ have been left behind by most of us but still rings a bell somewhere. You would usually find two-three packets lying in front of your door beside the pathram. And once they were emptied for raavilathe chaaya, the covers would be thoroughly washed and staked to be given to the ‘aakrikaaran’. The white plastic cover with a light blue design also hang in front of the small shops and are usually sold out by dusk. Don’t you think Milma milk has a peculiar taste compared to its contemporaries?
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The Nataraj lead pencils with black and red stripes as well as the 12 and 24 pack colour pencils have no doubt left us with a fond memory. Most of these packs also came with a red sharpener. Some pencils had leads that would keep breaking and thus, we would end up with a very small pencil. Did you ever have a competition for who had the smallest pencil?
Paragon Rubber Slippers
Fondly also known as the ‘Hawaii Chappal’ because rubber slippers were famous on the beach, Paragon rubber slippers was almost a part of the family. Most of these were stationed outside bathrooms or the backdoor of the house and have remarkable tensile strength and were very affordable. From the cheli on rainy days to the rough manal in the paramb, these bad boys were used by both adults and children alike.
We all have early memories of mazha and the word synonymous with it is kuda. And the word kuda immediately reminds us of the statue of a young boy in a red top holding a huge umbrella. We often see him in parks and beaches holding a black umbrella. Whether we are rushing to college or going out to our neighbours, the sugar rush of waiting for even a slight shower to use our new umbrella is indescribable. Multicoloured, with new styles and sometimes with pictures of your favourite cartoon, Popy kuda encapsulated our entire childhood and made rain season enjoyable.
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Parachute Coconut Oil
Pre-WhatsApp era, there was this joke.
“A person applying oil in his hair jumped from a terrace but didn’t die. Why”
And the answer was “Because he used Parachute coconut oil” (forgive us for the challi)
This blue bottle was present EVERYWHERE in our house from our dressing table to the kitchen and even in the bathroom. Imagine your dosa and hair both smelling the same! Parachute oil probably gifted us a stereotype that “Malayalis use coconut oil in everything”. Nevertheless, coconut oil and especially Parachute left our house lingering with a familiar smell that we have identified as our own.
We’ve listed down our favourite brands from Kerala that were our childhood favourite. What’s yours?