Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Lagi more childhood brands -- still here today

PARDON the Singlish. But "lagi" in this context means "even". Yes, even more childhood brands are beginning to emerge from the deep recesses of my mind.

There's Ayam Brand sardines. My classmates told me that it would even taste better in sandwiches if I chopped chilli and onions and mesh them with the sardines. Add a few drops of lime juice, if you don't mind the trouble.

Oh yes, Ma Ling brand luncheon meat. Used to cut chunks of it from the can and gobble them up plain, when mum wasn't looking. You can still find this brand in the supermarts and neighbourhood provision shops. Slice or cube them and pan fry them slightly. Add green peas and tomatoes -- and you have a dish. Ma Ling pig trotters are great too! The gravy is heavenly with rice, or used as a dip for bread.

Here are some more things (some are brandless) which are common during my childhood days in the 60s and 70s -- and still around today:

Butterfly biscuits
Shaped like a butterfly, hard as a rock. More commonly eaten during my primary school days, but somehow grown out of it in secondary school.

Button biscuits with icing
Would bite off the icing first than pop in the biscuit. Shopkeepers used to scoop them out from huge glass bottles (with metal lids) and wrapped them in newspapers for you. I believe they are now available in packets sold at supermarts as "gem bisucits".

Bun with cream
This is a simple bun that has a thin layer of cream in between. Not a favourite of mine, but it's nostalgic.

Cream horns 
Don't know about you, but I love the cream in there! It would be a great disappointment if I found only a tiny dollop inside the flaky horn. When we were small, cream horns were readily available in Chinatown's roadside stalls, as well as cream puffs. Today, you can still find them at Balmoral Bakery.

Remember the jingle that went ho-ho-ho-ho Horlicks?

Kraft cheddar cheese
I used to see them being served at coffee shops -- sliced chunkily with a bit of sugar. I am most familiar with the ones which come in a blue cardboard packaging. You need to progressively slide out the chunk of cheese from the box for slicing as it dwindles in size.

I needed to drink a cup of this for breakfast before I leave for school. I was never a fan of this drink. But somehow, when it came from the green van, icy cold in a triangular paper cup during sports day, it tasted perfect! A spoonful of Milo straight from the tin doesn't hurt either.

Planta magarine
Those in my childhood days came in metal tins and cans of various sizes, in yellow. The bigger cans were used by provision shop towkays to contain coins for change. The can dangles from the ceiling on a pulley system which allows you to pull the can down when you need to dip into it for change. It springs up automatically again after use. Planta magarine when used in cakes give a richer taste (I think, from my own experience). It is also easier to cream than butter. There's a great picture of this old brand found in this blog (in Thai).

Pig's ear biscuits
First saw and introduced to them at the stall selling sweets and huge prawn keropoks (crackers) in my primary school tuckshop. Alternate brown and beige twirls forming a biscuit that shapes like a pig's ear. Think it has a touch of cinnamon. Those sold today in packets seem to be overly hard and taste different.

SCS butter 
This is the one with the star on its packaging. Just love creaming this butter till it is white during baking activities.

Thye Hong Biscuits
Remember those school visits to the factory? And those small packets you used to get on Children's Day? There was also Khong Guan Biscuits (KGB). There was a joke which went round in those days: Russian spy flashed his identity: KGB. Singapore's counterpart also flashed his: KGB.


  • Bata shoes: Most of my shoes were from Bata during my childhood -- from canvas to going out shoes. Remember the tagline "First to Bata then to school"?
  • Pagoda brand: White cotton collarless t-shirts. Dad used to wear them at home with pyjama trousers.
  • Tiger Balm & Axe brand oil: You used to smell them in buses. Elderly people rubbed them on their temples probably to prevent getting carsick. I seem to remember seeing a billboard on Axe brand oil in Geylang, along Mountbatten Road when I was a kid. At night, it was in animated neon lights of the axe chopping. Very memorable billboard.

They have disappeared from the shelves in Singapore. I remember seeing a really huge billboard advertising Ovaltine at People's Park when I was very, very small. For some reason, it showed Chinese generals fighting in a war (something like those drawings associated with The Three Kingdoms). I guess it depicted strength and energy the drink provided.

Goldfish brand mosquito coils
However, mosquito coils are still around, and pretty much the same. There's a slit in the innermost coil which you use to slot onto metal stands. They were really effective because you immediately hear those irritating drones around your ears when the coils got burnt off.

Miss this much
The smell of coffee beans being roasted over a charcoal fire. As a child, I used to see this being done at the back of coffee shops in backlanes. The man would turn this metal rectangular thing containing coffee beans round and round over the fire. Occasionally, the man would slap chunks of margarine onto the beans. I loved the smell more than the taste of coffee.

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