Who buys these things? That’s the question I’ve asked myself whenever I’ve come across a display of candies at Indian stores in the US. By candies, I mean the uniquely desi ones – the Nutrine, Melody, Ravalgaon and similar confectionery. Which children are these displays targeted at?
Indian-American kids in the US have grown up on Mars and KitKat and MilkyWay. In fact, come to think of it, I hardly see any kids at the Indian stores, and never near the candy. I can safely rule out the children of even the short-term visitors – software engineers and so on, for I believe kids growing up in India too prefer Mars to Melody these days. So who does eat these sweets?
And then R brought home some Pan Pasand a few days ago. It was a recipe for instant nostalgia. Remember the old Doordarshan ad where Archana Joglekar shrieks
“Shaadi? Aur Tumse?? Kabhi Nahin!!” ? (Marriage? With You? Never!)
One Pan Pasand later, her tone becomes much mellower, even if she says the same thing. (But does the mellower tone mean there is hope for the guy? We never find out.)
As the Pan Pasand melted in my mouth, releasing its unique (for a candy) flavor of paan, I realized that the target audience for these candy displays had never been the children. They are for us – the poor benighted adult desis caught with the memories of the sweets we had in childhood, even as the supermarket aisles in India today are filled with Mars bars and Hersheys – sweets we once relied on visitors to supply us with. A lot of them are probably made in India now – I know, for one, that KitKats are. So like Indian Made Foreign Liquor, we now have Indian Made Foreign Sweets now.
Meanwhile, those of us who have moved to the US, have changed, ironically, from getting imported Mars bars in childhood to looking for imported Pan Pasand as adults.
And while on that, next time I am in the Indian store, I am going to look out for some Alpenliebe.