My earliest memory of Limca was when I was maybe 10 years old or so. Those days Thumps Up, Limca and Gold Spot ruled the Indian market. There was Campa Cola but I never had the opportunity to drink that.
It was my Uncle’s marriage. A typical Maharahstrain wedding mostly has Ice Cream. Marriages those days, especially Maharahstrian marriages were a complete day affair. The morning was occupied with the marriage and other ceremony followed by lunch. This was attended by family and close friends. The lunch was complete with all choices of the required dishes. By the time lunch ended, it would be late afternoon.
The marriage hall would be almost vacant with us children running around. By early evening, everybody would get ready with new sets of clothes. Evening would be time for reception where family, friends and acquaintances would be attending. This was a more crowded affair than the morning activity.
And during the evening ice cream would be served. This big family packs would be cut into slices and served. Ice cream was always the high point of reception.
My uncle who got married did not have much money to spent on a lavish wedding and so he opted for a quite affair where only few selected people, relatives and friends were called. This was the first time I saw cold drinks being served in a marriage. That day to my delight, I had many cold drinks.
Cold drinks in our house was a luxury affair. It was only brought when some very important guest came to our house like maybe my dad’s boss. My brother or I would go and brink those 300 ml of cold drink bottles and if we were lucky we would get a glass of it. As I said it was a luxury affair.
As I went to college, cold drinks were still a luxury. When I was in 10th standard, the year was 1992, the year of liberalization and a sardar finance minister. Pepsi made a grand entry in India. It was the time when Remo Fernandes did a Michael Jackson. It was such a craze that time. Pepsi came up with so many promos and offers. It was evident that it wanted to give some competition to the monopoly.
Cold drinks started getting less costly and there were some economical bottles. They introduced many freebies with the bottle. Collect Pepsi points and you could get a English music cassette. That was not the first time, any soft drink company was introducing such offers. Parle’s Thumps-Up has been doing it for years.
I so envied the Thumps-Up flicker book and those small bats and balls and those small Thumps-Up bottles that lined in the custom made wooden showcases of many houses. Thumps-Up dominated the market after the Janta Dal government had ousted the Coco-cola company from India way back in 1977-78.
It was a great irony that after almost 20 years, Thumps-Up was sold to the same Coco-cola company.
But Pepsi brought competition and Parle’s share fell. Die-hard Thumps-Up fan still remained royal but once in a while, they still tried Pepsi. Pepsi was a US brand but still the name was quite popular long before it came here in India, not as a cold drink but as a cheap flavored ice.
In the 80s and 90s, Pepsi meant a long frozen ice bar flavored with different syrups. Priced quite cheaply at 25 paise, 50 paise and a rupee, it was quite popular among children , especially after playing in the hot sun. Enclosed in a see-through plastic, we had to cut one end and then just suck on the ice. During hot weather, the ice was let to melt to become water and then we just drank flavored water.
I am not sure how the name stuck as Pepsi but having Pepsi as a soft drink took some time to sink in. Pepsi did try to distinguish itself by adopting the name “Lehar Pepsi” but the image of Pepsi as a long flavored ice bar was difficult to shake.
Some innovative companies even replaced water with milk and branded the simple “Pepsi” as a health ice.
Happiness isn’t that cheap anymore
To be continued…….