The first thing that I was actually ever allowed to cook was a packet of Maggi Noodles. Those same noodles which my generation and I loved, is now loved by my children and their generation; evidently they stumbled upon a highly saleable hit formula back then and never looked back.
I have hardly ever come across a child who does not like Maggi Noodles – or a mother, who, even with her misgivings, never lets her children eat this tasty and convenient food product at least ocassinlay.
Maggi noodles have been around for so long and they are so quick, cheap and convenient that pretty much everyone has eaten them – and often. So that everyone has a Maggi memory – and very cleverly the manufactures have tapped into this nostalgia factor associated with Maggi noodles. Tired of hostel food, students turn to Maggi, you can carry them when you go camping and so on.
In spite of being arguably one of India’s most popular convenience foods, Maggi has repeatedly come under the scanner for being unhealthy, low in nutrition and high in salt, MSG and fat. And there is also the allegation that this product has wax in it – you have likely got an email to this effect at some point (the same email that probably told you about Kurkure containing plastic and Coke being an excellent toilet cleaner etc.).
To counter this ‘unhealthy’ tag the marketing people quickly came up with the Taste Bhi Health Bhi slogan. They also came up with Atta noodles in the green packaging that send the subliminal message about better health – with the goodness of three rotis and with vegetables.
So, on the one hand there are all the various claims about the noodles being fried before packaging, therefore being high is fat, about unhealthy packaging that causes plastic to leach into the actual food and about maggi noodles being dangerously unhealthy junk food. On the other hand there is the manufacturer Nestle claiming that it’s all good, safe and healthy. What does the consumer believe?
As always the truth is probably somewhere in between the scare mongering and the slick marketing. The Atta noodles may be slightly better than the maida ones, but to say that they have added veggies is a bit of a stretch – three desiccated peas and 5 shreds of dehydrated carrots in the Tastemaker hardly counts for added veggies. Nutritionally there isn’t much that maggi noodles can offer, unless you decide to add mixed veggies of your own (however, good luck finding a kid who is not outraged by such additions).
Also, now that ‘No MSG’ claim that is prominently made on the packet, other substitutes are used for it – such as excess salt. It is this salt content that makes kids like it so much. There is also the claim that the product has Goodness of protein and calcium – know that it perhaps has just enough to let them legally make that claim.
So while the kids love it, and moms find it hugely convenient, don’t be fooled that maggi is anything as healthy as they would have you believe – also don’t be satisfied that your child has had a substantial meal just because a considerable quantity – read calories – of food is consumed. One regular packet has about 400 calories, so don’t forget this is high calorie food.
But equally you needn’t believe the scare mongers that tell horror stories about toxicity and other dangers. The occasional maggi meal is not really going to harm you.
So bottom line is, whether you have it for reasons of nostalgia or for reasons of convenience, once in a while is OK – don’t believe the marketing chaps or the scare mongers.