First and foremost, we, from Sunway Echo Media, would like to wish every Malaysian a Happy Independence Day! For this month’s Echo Eats, we thought of taking you, our dear readers, on a trip down memory lane; reminiscing on the wide array of savoury, sweet and cooling snacks you enjoyed whilst growing up in Malaysia (hopefully, spurring you to go on a hunt for them). Without further ado, let’s begin!
PART A: SAVOURY
If you didn’t put 10 rings on all 10 fingers and ate them off your fingers like that…then that means you’ve been living the wrong childhood. I mean, isn’t that why people bought Cheezels? This cheesy snack is crunchy, extremely cheesy, and thankfully, still available today. Don’t worry, you can still grab a bag at the petrol station or the convenience store and feel like a kid again. However, besides the normal cheesy flavour, you can also find the barbecue option…though obviously the original Cheezels is still the reigning icon.
2. Mamee Monster
Ah, a classic. Do you remember this snack as much as we do? You’ve got the crunchy noodles and the salty flavour…although it was our parents who told us to throw away the salt because it was super unhealthy. Not that we cared anyway. The reason why Mamee Monster is so memorable is the way we ate it. You’d squeeze the bag to crush the noodles, aggressively yank it open (and hope it doesn’t explode everywhere), tear open the seasoning package and pour the salt into it and then shake everything together. The nostalgic flavours come in BBQ with the pink trim (above picture) and chicken with the green trim but frankly speaking…no one really ever talks about the chicken flavour, don’t you think? Now, they released a spicy flavour but the blue monster has remained the same nevertheless.
3. Super Ring
Besides the questionable neon orange colour, Super Ring has defined our childhood as the Walmart version of Cheezels. It’s light and crispy, and you still have the same effect of its powdery flavouring sticking to your fingertips. But possibly, Super Ring might be the famous one out of this list, as it has garnered international attention from the K-pop group BLACKPINK. In one of their vlogs (BLACKPINK DIARIES), we can see the members Ji Soo and Jennie losing their marbles in excitement after managing to encounter the Malaysian snack in a convenience store. Now, Super Ring is sold in Korea for RM4.30 per bag. Crazy right?
Twisties!!! I feel as if this one holds as much power as Cheezels. Yes, they also do have the cheese flavour, but Twisties has more variety – the tangy tomato, the savoury roast chicken and the spicy BBQ curry. They’re a corn snack that comes in a particularly twisted shape (pun intended) and they can get pretty dang addicting. Today, they’ve come up with a handful more of flavours, like Sawadee Thai Sweet Chilli and Chilli Cheese on Fire. What’s your favourite flavour?
5. Tam Tam & Mi Mi
These two come as a set, and we know that for a fact, that these hand-sized bags are probably a big part of your childhood snack. Tam Tam’s a crab flavoured snack that comes in the size of these ridged pillows that’s slightly sticky to touch. In contrast, Mi-Mi comes in these thin sticks that are prawn-flavoured. Together, they form part of the category of the addicting, seafood-flavoured snacks of the Malaysian childhood experience. So which one are you? Team Mi-mi or Team Tam Tam?
PART B: SWEET
1. Iced gem biscuits
These cute little biscuits do take me back to when I was a cheeky, playful little kid. I can still remember how I’ll usually just bite off the icing, and subsequently leave the biscuit base for someone else. (Well, I did suffer the consequences of my actions, where I was not allowed to have snacks for a week.)
There are generally two parts to this sweet, delightful treat and let’s be frank, everyone’s favourite is obviously the sweet icing. The first part being the biscuit base which usually gives off a buttery and milky taste once you bite into it, the second one being the little meringue-like icing of various colours which, of course, tastes sweet because of the icing sugar (and the one that children would usually fight over).
2. Apollo confectionery
Another blast from the past was Apollo’s signature sweet chocolate wafers and the assortment of layered cakes. The wafers usually come in a pack of 12, each. The most common one you’ll find is on the left, with reference to the first picture below, which is the regular chocolate flavoured one. The rare find, in my opinion, would be the one which includes some milk (susu is the Malay translation for milk) to the wafer giving it a much more creamy yet smooth taste. You’re in luck if you do manage to get your hands on the latter.
Let’s not forget about the layered cakes of various flavours such as cocoa, strawberry, banana, chocolate, pandan and blueberry. The soft, fluffy cakes and the cream in the middle just hit the spot. As a kid, I would usually find these at the annual class feast or in a gift bag at a friend’s birthday party.
If you were craving something sweet, fruity and chewy, you would have definitely turned to these little fellas. These wouldn’t last long in your bag if you were to bring them to school. Each and every one of your friends would be coming up to you for it and by the time you come to the realization, it’s all gone! That is a clear testimony as to how popular this particular candy was whilst all of us were growing up. Sugus offers an array of flavour choices like grapes, green apples, oranges, and strawberries. I’m definitely sure that most Malaysians can remember growing up, chewing on Sugus as there’s always one particular favourite flavour for everyone so no one is left out!
4. NiNi & NyamNyam
Snacks that were named using words which were repeated. For the life of me, I mean, I could understand the latter one for it simply means “delicious” or how in every kid’s vocabulary it would translate to “yum yum”, but I can’t seem to comprehend the former. Anyway, moving away from the names, these two were well-known for their dips which were mostly chocolate. It’s usually a challenge, trying not to finish off too much of the dip using the sticks (for NiNi) and the krispies (for NyamNyam), just so that one is able to enjoy the remaining, leftover chocolate dip at the end to its full satisfaction.
5. Jelly Cups
Another common find in those little gift bags. I’m not sure about you, but I have a very exciting way of enjoying these excessively sweet, fruity jelly cups, once I receive them. The joy of ripping off (which I always fail at) that layer of plastic covering the top of the jelly, and subsequently downing it by swallowing the jelly. Oh, it doesn’t stop there, I would then throw my head back ever so slightly to let the remaining jelly juice glide down my throat, allowing me to savour them. Talk about contentment.
PART C: COOLING
1. Ice Pops
To beat the heat in Malaysia, you had the option of getting an ice pop from a mobile roadside stall. They came in a variety of bright colours – enough to colour your tongue – and that’s because they come in a number of flavours. Though I can’t remember much, I do recall a grape-flavoured purple ice pop. It was basically frozen ice and syrup but, when it melts off in the hot sun? It became syrup-infused water, which was delicious, either way. If not, you might get a slushy moment where your teeth would crunch through the melting ice.
For the people who are in Penang right now, do look for Nur Syifa Aiskrim, owned by Kak Oni. Her unique, modern-looking ice pops are beautifully handmade and are currently sold at three different locations in the state. Costing only RM0.50 per ice pop, they come in 17 flavours like Vanilla Oreo and Coklat Coki. If you’re drawn to the blue one in the picture, it’s an ice pop made of blue Dynamite candy.
2. Roti Ais Krim
If you’re not in the mood for an ice pop, then go for roti ais krim on a hot summer’s day. This is the ultimate ice cream sandwich which you can savour. Two to three ice cream scoops of your desired flavours are placed in between a classic hot-dog bun, and it’s honestly a delight. For some of us, it’s an after-school treat we cherish with friends. I’d remember the ice cream stand outside the school gates and the bustle of kids that would line up for this. You get several different textures in one bite too – soft, creamy and cold.The part when the bun starts to absorb the cold melted ice cream? Chef’s kiss.
3. Ais Potong
Think of Ais Potong as the upgraded version of your ice pops. Why? Because they have the same icy texture, but don’t have the syrupy flavour that ice pops have. In fact, they’re more like the standard popsicle on a stick, though they often come in an elongated, narrow cuboid appearance. For this treat, they come in a variety of classic flavours – red bean, cendol, durian, corn, chocolate – and more. Personally, I feel like it’s milder than normal ice cream, but Ais Potong has a more traditional feel to it, that ice cream can’t achieve. Otherwise, it’s just as refreshing as any dessert.
Did you really think that these were the only snacks of our childhood? No! Of course not. This is just the tip of the iceberg, really. Other notable childhood snacks we’d like to mention would be the small cylinder of haw flakes, the assorted Paddle Pop ice cream from Wall’s (e.g. the pastel rainbow ice cream), chocolate coins, Yupi gummies (especially the ones shaped in a hamburger or a pizza), Choki-choki chocolate sticks and Wang-Wang rice crackers. We hope you had fun reading this article, and in the true spirit of Merdeka Day, go on a treasure hunt to find these snacks and reignite your inner child.
By Natasha Effendy and Joey Yap