Technically, it’s 10 snacks from a Malaysian kid who grew up in the 90s/2000s, but that was too long to fit into the title, so…
Hello! I haven’t blogged for a couple of days because I’ve been super busy with work. As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. Assignments never come in ones, but threes or fours. I stayed til 11pm yesterday to finish a video for my article, which took longer than expected *newfound respect to our video editing team!*
I was shopping for groceries today when I walked past the snack aisle… ever since I started my health regime, I’ve stayed clear of unhealthy snacks and stuff – but it really brought back memories of growing up as a primary school student and munching on all these well-known and well-loved brands. Here are a few that I’m sure many Malaysians growing up in the 1990s would be familiar with.
1) Mamee Monster
In Malaysia, we have roti sellers – peddlers who go around the neighbourhoods with a large container hooked to the back of their bikes. These would often have goodies like bread and snacks on the inside. Everyday around 6pm, the horn goes ‘dudut,dudut‘ and all the kids would run out of their houses with RM1 (which was a lot for kids at that time!), to have their pick of candy, snacks and of course, Mamee Monster.
The packaging’s shade of bright yellow and the snack’s fuzzy blue mascot is so well-known that you don’t even have to read the label to know it is Mamee Monster. It used to be only 20sen per packet, and they come in flavours such as BBQ and chicken.
As a child, I’d beg my parents to let me have my Mamee quota of the week (they weren’t very keen on the MSG and stuff in it), then clap my hands happily when they finally said yes. Then I wait for the roti auntie to come by. For a six-year-old, that seemed to take forever! When I finally opened the packaging, unearthing the crunchy ramen-shaped block, I’d sprinkle lots of seasoning and then listen to the crunchiness through mouthfuls of the noodle snack.
These days, Mamee is 50sen per pack, but is still a well-loved snack among Malaysian children (and some adults!)
My motto for Choki-Choki back in high school was ‘one is never enough’. Our school koperasi (shop run by students) did brisk business selling these chocolate-paste snacks in tubes, which we sucked out from an opening at the top. All the school kids had them during recess and sometimes even snuck a few into class, hidden behind text books propped up over our faces (okay, maybe that was just me). At only 20sen per stick, my classmates and I would usually get 10, tear away the top, then eat all of them in one go. After I foolishly brought back a few and ate them at home, my mum forbade me to have any more because she said the colouring from the packaging seemed to be coming off as we bit on the tube to get the last vestiges of chocolate and cashewnut paste from the packaging…. so after that, I always,always made sure that I finished all my Choki-Choki at school. Ha
The beginnings of my coffee addiction started off with an addiction to coffee-flavoured sweets – namely, Kopiko. This Indonesian candy is well-known in most South East Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, The Philippines and Thailand. It is so popular that it ships to 45 countries around the globe. Ingredients include coffee beans, chocolate, caramel, cream and pop rice. Although simple, one can easily finish a whole packet as they sit in front of the TV while sucking on these sweet little square-shaped candies. These days they even have several varieties, like cappucino and ones with ‘less sugar’.
4) Super Ring
The amount of colouring in Super Ring is probably enough to knock out a horse, but as a teenager, this was one of my favourite snacks. Nevermind that it often turned my fingers a bright cheesy orange for several hours. Just like it’s less orangey-counterpart Cheezels, Super Ring is the cheaper, more affordable range of snack for your average high-schooler. The taste isn’t exactly cheese cheese as opposed to savoury-sweet-artificial flavoured cheese, but yeah. You get the picture. At only 30sen per mini-pack (this was in the 2000s…not sure how much they cost now), eating this would also result in a lot of smeared orange stains over textbooks, tables and whatnot.
5) Bika chicken crackers
Bika is a local brand with a few snacks under its range, but the most popular one would probably be its Chicken-flavoured crackers. The crackers are lightly salted with a taste similar to fried flour more than chicken, but still…. as a teenage-me would say, any junk food is good food. What I really liked about Bika is their generous amount of servings. Most snack packets are half-full of air, but Bika’s is at least 75% filled all the time. Which makes it an excellent choice for cheapo people at parties.
6) Durian-flavoured popcorn
How funky can you get? I guess if you’re not Malaysian, this snack would seem very odd – but you read it right. Popcorn perisa (flavoured) durian is, well, a corn snack with durian flavouring. It’s not even real pop corn, just… corn snacks. I can’t even describe it. Doesn’t matter – as long as it tastes good. The Durian flavoured popcorn is quite addictive, from the porous texture that has small air holes in them that melts in your mouth, to that slight crunch when you bite into the airy snack. This is truly one of the old-school Malaysian snacks, so I think it is quite hard to find in the market these days.
7) Snekku (Mi Mi and Tam Tam)
While Mi Mi and Tam Tam might sound like names someone would give their cats and dogs, this range of snacks by Snekku is very popular among school kids because of a) loads of flavouring and b) cheap. Now I have learnt that there is always a catch when you see snacks, like ‘durian-flavoured’…. implying that there isn’t much durian used in the process in the first place. For Mi Mi and Tam Tam, I doubt a lot of seafood was put into their production either, but who cares right? It’s junk food, it’s unhealthy, and it tastes awesome.
The key word here is ‘flavoured’
So in order to Malaysian-ise it and avoid lawsuits, they changed the name from Twinkies to Twiggies. (I see what you did there, Gardenia!) But yeah, Twiggies are the Malaysian version of the American Twinkies. These hold a special place in my heart because I used to have them for recess every day, and never got tired of them. Sometimes I’d switch it up a little from vanilla to chocolate, but I could give Tallahassee from Zombieland a run for his money (or twinkies).
Before all the Cadburys, the Hersheys and whatnot even existed in Malaysia, there was Apollo.
A very old and established company, Apollo was one of the biggest players in the local cake/confectionery scene with their range of layer cakes, wafers, biscuits, etc. Every Malaysian child would have been privy to some Apollo commercials during their Saturday morning cartoons – they laid it on quite thick on advertising. There was the soft pandan-flavoured cakes, the red-wrapped chocolate layer bars (which was a must for every kindie and primary school party) and the chocolate layer cake with its coating of sweet chocolate and sponge cake on the inside with just a hint of cream. For a kid back then, these were real treats.
These days I see kids nomming fancy desserts up at posh, high-end cafes with their parents and I kind of die a little inside, lol
Another advertising heavy company in the 90s and early 2000s, Tora and DingDong chocolates had an edge over other brands, thanks to their mini toys. Thinking back, it was kind of a cheap gimmick, but hey – we were kids. They always came up with cool little gadgets like propellors that flew into the air when you pulled a ring, or soap bubble blowers, and everything from stationery to collectibles. DingDong’s packaging character was basically a modified Doraemon (Doraemon in Cantonese is pronounced as DingDong!). Although, Tora and DingDong were slightly more expensive than your average 20, 30sen snack – at Rm1-2 each. Kids would normally save up and buy them just so they can show off the toys. But hey, the chocolate biscuit balls were pretty good too.
I know this isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are ten that I can think off the top of my head at the moment. How about you? Know of any Malaysian snacks from your childhood that you think should be listed here? What are some of your favourite snacks from your regions? Comment below!