The rise and fall of masala oats

Categories Food, Humour, Opinion
masala oats

Breakfast like a champion!

I never did. Never became a champion too. But who cares. Breakfast is for weenies. Babies and animals need to stuff themselves as soon as they wake up. I planned on being neither.

Using my own will and volition, I always chose to stay in bed and wake up after the rest of the world has gone to their offices or anywhere else their mundane lives took them. I indulged in food only when my heart and stomach agreed on an appropriate time.

Then I got a job. And, I got married. Now, I know all about animals, babies and mundane lives. Someone was bullshitting about the champion part. My desi firang friends tell me how lucky I am to be in India where breakfast options are so endless. You have the Punjabi parathas, southern upma, vada and idlis, North Indian kulchas and chole bhaturas. Then, there are so many other items that no particular region can lay claim to – poha, roti bhaji, puri subji, maggi noodles etc.

Now, we have also woken up to western breakfast items, such as breads, baked beans, porridge, croissants and what not. I can buy some ten kinds of breads from my neighbourhood kirana store. Atta, whole wheat, multi grain, garlic and even focaccia, whatever I fancy, it’s all there.

You will think that we never have to think of breakfast again. On the contrary, it remains the most perplexing meal of the day. Toast is too light, paratha is too heavy, idli is too bland, puri is too oily and who is going to do all that cooking in the morning.

One morning, a newspaper advertisement informed that our lives have changed forever. 2 minute oats had arrived. It does not give you any guilt, it is perfectly healthy, filling and it has the cool ring to it that all new things do. We went to the Big Apple store and bought a string of the pouches. Next morning, we were having Quaker for breakfast like a true amrikan at heart. It happened for a few days. We went to bed watching Mad Men and Modern Family and woke up to a Chicago born breakfast.

It was perfect. Masala oats was the best thing that had happened to us in a long time. We could sleep late, have proper breakfast and reach office in time. We started with the Homestyle Masala, and within a couple of days, had tried all the variants. Apart from a horrid sounding strawberry flavoured oats. A few days later, Saffola launched a similar range. They had some flavour sickness (kesar pista!!) too but were at par with Quaker.

masala oats

During the whole breakfast experiment, my wife underwent some unexpected transformation. Normally indifferent to the appeal of things, she was falling harder for oats than she had fallen for me. Within a week, she had called my mother, my two sisters, her brother and numerous other friends about our new find. She would call them a few days later to follow up if they had tried and liked any particular offering. If anyone had tried and didn’t quite agree on all points, a flavour war would ensue. My mother should have tried the Classic Masala not the bland Veggie Twist. “Why can’t she get it right,” she will crib to me.

She had turned into a marketing monster. She was not on their pay rolls, she was not a wholesaler and she was not getting any incentives. But she had become an advertiser’s dream. Into the second week, she was buying them herself and distributing to the old ladies in our neighbourhood. It had become a part of the gift basket when we visited our friends.

However, after two weeks of an intense love affair, a few cracks started to appear in the story. The Quaker oats were all too spicy. A As if their market research had come up with one conclusion, a very obvious one – Indians love spices. So, they just packed it in. We tried their pohas and they had the same problem too. We continued with the Saffola ones for a few days more.

But clearly the love story was over. For good. The companies were putting horrors on the shelves. A Lemony Veggie Mix? A Kesar flavour? The experiment had turned into a farce. We were intimated and put off by this new oats guy who thought it could be everything – sweet, spicy, lemony and whatever else.

The novelty had worn off. Now, a month later, we still have a few sachets rotting at the bottom of the top cabinet. Somewhere, next to the iPod Touch that we had bought on a whim. They stay hidden, so we don’t have to see them and feel guilty. Or, stupid. We were neither the classic spice eating Indians nor the new Indian bitten by oatsophilia.

We were off the charts of the market researchers and oats is now off the menu for us.

  • Mohit Joshi

    Hello Om!

    I loved your post.

    Even I used hate oats, but I couldn’t escape it as my mom used to say that it is very nutritious, etc etc.

    I couldn’t bear this taste every early morning so I Googled it & look what I found.
    This is the official website of Saffola where it provides a number of oats recipes which are not just healthy but also tasty.

    Now I just love oats

  • Megha Lakshminaryan

    Hi, I am so glad you stopped eating that crap. I was in the same boat as your wife. I had told everyone I know in california about buying it and also bought truck loads of it from India. Until I found that it had these 2 ingredients 631 and 627. They are nothing but MSG, known to cause cancer and absolute no no for pregnant/breastfeeding women.

    • We stopped eating them at the time of this post and have never tried them again. What you say is scary, but so far, our laws are very lax on MSG and other such food ingredients. We can only inform each other, thanks.

  • pradeep

    my love story with masala oats hasnt ended and am already a marketing monster 🙂

  • Foodie

    Masala Oats are for health benefit. Not for taste. You shouldn’t have even tried it. And at that frequency! No wonder you got bored 😛

  • Anonymous

    Actually I got introduced to this 2 years back and we had my husband’s sister ship it to us. I still love them, may be because we don’t eat it every day and I add lot of extra veggies and egg and add more spice on top. I like basic masala and coriander flavor. Adding extra chillies and other stuff to that masala actually enhances the taste.

  • Neha

    Masala oats has been the grossest tasting thing I ever ate. Yuck!

  • Nikhil

    hahaha.. awesome.. my wife bought many packs and brought back to US with us.. i wonder how long will that effort last.. considering.. anything with masala in the name for indians living in US is like a dreamy food world.. lol.. nice writeup.

    • Not for long…some people have not understood that masala should only be followed by terms like tikka 🙂

  • Natasha Sahgal

    The only thing I’m thinking is, can I have that iPod touch that you don’t use?

  • Saru Singhal

    In the mid of the post, I was tempted to call my mom to taste it 😛

    Thank God, I am an Indian when it comes to food. 2 years in this firang desh and I still munch parathas/idlis/plain dosa in my breakfast. BTW, staying healthy is never my mantra. Staying well fed is 😀

    • I know what that “well fed” means 🙂 My family is (was) filled with diabetics who romped on rasgullas, all the way to heaven. I guess that’s where you go if you eat too many rasgullas.

      The disappointment apart, I have vowed to pick up every new carton, pouch, sachet or tetrapack I see in the mart!

  • Shweta Bhardwaj

    hehehe…good one. I was smiling through out while reading the post and thinking of multiple items that have gone off my list like that. :))

  • samar khan

    OMG i am rolling laughing after reading your post and wondering what will I do with the masala oats that i recently bought!

  • Fizz Genuine

    Must admit… Something similar happened at my place too… I got too excited about Oats… But now, I have gone back to my love for the pure and simple – egg.

    I couldn’t stop smiling through out the write up… Thats what made it so good. 🙂

    • Thanks Fizaah. There is nothing I love more in life than buffet breakfasts. The non-buffet days, which are far too many, somehow, just don’t matter 🙂

  • Sid

    Realistic humour… And bloody now I realise, those Oats that u got for us was from the shelved ones? I hope you gifted them to me during phase one. Ah… 🙂

  • namrota

    hehehe… 😛

    I love oats.. however, the masalas and falanas don’t much appeal to me.

    • I am an irreverent foodie, I can eat anything. At least, for a few days 🙂

  • aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar

    haha good one

  • Hahaha…Mesmerizing 🙂