Maggi first entered the Indian market in 1982. The instant noodles debuted as the 'two minute noodles' quickly becoming the most favorite snack among the young. Maggi fired the culinary imagination of a whole generation of Indians and freed mothers from the tedium of cooking elaborate snacks for their hungry children.
Maggi then re-positioned itself with a new tagline: 'Taste Bhi, Health Bhi' (Taste as well as health). Many a celebrities became its brand ambassadors telling customers that the product was not just an instant snack but also gave the consumer more calcium and protein for his money. Maggi was then being promoted as a food that was 'fast to cook and good to eat'.
Variants soon emerged, whole grain, atta
(wheat flour), vegetable multigrains, chicken noodles, curry noodles, Maggi Cuppa Mania, and the most recent, oats noodles. Apart from its noodles, Maggi also introduced Tomato Ketchup, Maggi soups, Magic Cubes, Bhuna Masala, Coconut Milk Powder, Masala-ae-Magic and Pazzta, to become a popular brand in itself. Recently Maggi grabbed the headlines after it courted controversy over charges of excessive lead in its noodles, which soon led to a country-wide ban on the popular snack. The ban has affected the Indian people in many ways.
For Ramesh Nayak, 26, living got tougher after Maggi instant noodles were banned in Delhi. His cart in south Delhi selling Maggi noodles was his only earning until a week ago, when the local distributors stopped supplying Maggi noodles.
Manasa Datta, a 22-year-old student in Delhi, said, "When I was 10, I was always excited to have my mum pack Maggi for me as a school lunch. My teachers used to shun the sight of Maggi for lunch. Maggi noodles were a comfort meal for me for more than 10 years."
Software professional Tharun Reddy said, "If someone asks me if I can cook, I could safely say Maggi. I guess I can't do that anymore."
Maggi noodles are imported from India by many countries in Europe and Asia, as also Britain and the US. Himanshu Manglik, an official at Nestle India, said, "A part of the manufacturing done in India goes for export. In fact, enquiries reveal that most of the exported Maggi noodles find their way to Indian stores abroad."
Uday Kiran, 34, a NRI living in London, said, "I feel close to home when I find Maggi noodles in the Indian stores here, they bring back many memories. I cannot believe the tradition of over three generations has been halted."