Amit Desai, Founder & Managing Director, Metieta Advertising Pvt. Ltd. reminiscences about his love for the cream roll as a child and how the product, like many other brands and organizations need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant
BY AMIT DESAI
Founder and Managing Director, Metieta Advertising Pvt. Ltd.
One of these Sundays, I was passing through the by-lanes of Gandhinagar, my hometown, on a Royal Enfield. I passed through our ever-famous Laxmi Bakery, the oldest and most popular bakery in Gandhinagar. I was briefly engulfed by the nostalgia and felt like stopping by to say hi to Kishorebhai, the owner of Laxmi Bakery. After exchanging pleasantries, my thoughts went back to the days when Laxmi Bakery used to send its products out on a hand cart to sell them. This hand cart announced its arrival by ringing a bell. It had glass cabinets that showcased fresh-from-the-oven breads, buns, bhaji pav breads, tutti-frutti breads, rusk, biscuits, occasional pastry... And above all, the most high-priced item of our time - the cream roll! Priced at Rs 5 apiece, they were an absolute treat. You had to actually earn them - behave, do your homework on time, do household chores, keep your room clean, not fight with your elder brother, eat all vegetables... and then Mom would flash that Rs 5 note once a week so that you could satisfy your yearning.
I snapped back to the present and asked Kishorebhai, “Do you still have those cream rolls?” “Yes,” he replied. “Do a lot of people still ask for them?” I asked. “Nah, it’s not in demand anymore,” he replied, with a hint of worry on his face. I wondered why. Anyway, I ordered three cream rolls, one each for my daughter, my niece and myself! At home, when I unveiled the treat post a brief teaser, they seemed totally unexcited. Upon my insistence, they tried a bite of my dear cream roll, only to reject it in its entirety with a certain disdain the very next moment.
“What the heck?” I thought… “The cream roll does not have takers anymore? Is it dying or is it already dead?”
I think this is true about a whole lot of products or services or traditions or rituals of the yesteryears that are quickly fading with time…
The count is endless…RimJhim, Gold Spot, Phantom Cigarette, Swad Hajme ki Goli, Big Fun Bubble Gum, Chiclets, Kismi Toffee, Peppy, Rasna Soft Drink Concentrate, Pepsi Cola Candy (Slush), Charminar Cigarettes, Illustrated Weekly of India, Indrajal Comics, Hero Pen, Chelpark Ink, Rajdoot, Bajaj Scooters, Luna, Ambassador, Premier Padmini - Fiat, Contessa, HMT, Dyanora TV, Khaitan Fans… All lost in oblivion. All a continuous source of nostalgia.
Simple games like marbles, kho-kho, hide-andseek, gilli danda, spinning top, seven tiles, statue, hopscotch, jump rope, chor-sipahi, langdi tang, trading Bollywood cards, etc., are on the verge of extinction.
Unfortunately, there are no takers for these games and most urban children are not the outdoor types. They are perennially engrossed in phones, laptops and iPads or are busy fulfilling the wishes of desperate parents who want them to score beyond 90 percentile.
I would be tempted to write an epitaph for the cream roll, but guess I am still not giving up hope. Nostalgia can be encashed; nostalgia can be a very credible and authentic source of reinventing a few of those products or games or traditions that can not only appeal to Generation X, but Gen Y and Gen Z as well. Royal Enfield is a classic example of such a revival. Case in point: Paper Boat, which has got traction from all generations in spite of focusing on nostalgic appeal! To overcome the MSG and lead crisis, Maggie used the nostalgia route to great advantage and it worked!
A lot of these faded brands continue to have a phenomenal recall and positive perception. There is a believable story about these brands and they still hold a future if re-packed to the current market needs. Somewhere, there is a market and revival of those yesteryear products is just round the corner.
Hope to see the cream roll in a newer avatar very soon!
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