Snacking is a part of everyone’s daily lives – whether it’s enjoying a healthy snack or a good old bag of chips or chocolate bar in between meals. For the sake of this article, however, the focus will more specifically be on the snacks that aren’t particularly healthy – those not-so-guilty pleasures.
Snacks in Egypt have somehow become a part of the culture – most especially those beloved childhood snacks, of which some no longer exist or whose popularity has simply faded after years of competition being constantly introduced into the market.
That being said, we’re going to take a brief stroll down memory lane in order to shine light on how snacking culture in Egypt has evolved over recent years – more specifically since the 1990’s up until now.
This category of snacks will look into products that were greatly popular when they first came out, and have been able to maintain their popularity throughout the years even among local and international competition.
Juhayna Mix is a popular dairy based drink that comes in various flavors – from strawberry to chocolate. This Juhayna product was greatly popular back in the day, and has evolved over the years to fit the current market and stand out amongst competition. Generally speaking, Juhayna as a local company has always managed to make itself stand out and survive over the years.
Another Egyptian brand that has proven to stand the test of time is the very popular Chipsy. Chipsy has been present in the market for a long time, since 1980, and has managed to survive and keep up with both local and international competition. They constantly develop new lines of products and come out with advertising campaigns that keep their presence alive. A notable flavour of theirs? Kebab.
Borio is a popular Egyptian biscuit brand that looks and tastes almost the same as it sounds to its international counterpart (Oreos). Borio was a lot more popular when it first came out, however its survival to this day is worth noting as it is still present in the market and a go-to for many Egyptians looking for a more affordable version of the creamy filled chocolate biscuit sandwich (1 small pack – 30gm – costs around 1.50 EGP).
These beloved chocolate and vanilla flavored biscuits go way back in Egyptian snack culture, and they are still standing strong to this day. A beloved tea time snack, Chato biscuits are a go-to local brand, perhaps in large part due to both its pleasant taste as well its affordability in comparison to both newer local international competition (1 pack – 140gm – costs around 7.50 EGP).
By ‘the bad’, it is no way meant that these products are ‘bad products’ – on the contrary, these products were – and in some cases still are – greatly loved by the majority of the Egyptian population. The products that fall under this category are the brands that were once greatly popular, especially during the 90’s, and are still present in the current market but have lost their popularity over the years with the introduction of more local and international competition.
Corona and Bimbo
Corona chocolate is a brand familiar to any Egyptian. This Alexandrian Confectionary & Chocolate Company was first established in 1919, and quickly rose to fame as it was the first confectionary and chocolate company in the Egyptian market. Corona chocolates, and most especially Bimbo (which is a Corona product), were a staple in most of our childhoods in Egypt. Although Corona chocolates and Bimbo still exist to this day, they have lost their once blossoming popularity over the years and they are not quite a staple Egyptian snack these days.
Another beloved chocolate covered wafer biscuit snack, Katakito is a brand name that immediately transports one back to childhood. Although still existing in today’s market, and having tried to slightly re-brand themselves with ‘New Katakito’, this once coveted snack has lost its popularity, but is always thought of fondly.
Samba and Shamadan
These wafer biscuit snacks were hugely present during our childhoods and widely loved. Both Samba and Shamadan still exist in today’s market, however heavy local and international competition being introduced over the years have taken a toll on these once popular brands. What is especially noteworthy, is the appearance of the very similar Freska brand that has become local competition in recent years. With Freska’s vibrant media presence, Samba and Shamadan both struggle to survive in our current market.
The products that fall under this category are snacks that were once widely popular and loved in Egypt, but have slowly disappeared over the years. Perhaps due to a mixture of both competition in the market, as well as having simply grown out of loving these products, these once childhood staples no longer exist in the Egyptian market.
Lolita was a rather strange but greatly beloved snack. This colored liquid came in these long plastic tubes that we would tear at the top and suck the sugary drink out of. Lolita came in a variety of flavors, all of which were had a high concentration of sugar.
Although not as popular these days, Best for Juice is actually still present in the Egyptian market, however we will more specifically focus on its popular juice box that they no longer produce. Perhaps the best part about this particular ‘Best’ juice box was the fun in opening it. The juice drink came in a strange aluminum-like material in which we would have to successfully pop a straw through in an almost game-like manner.
Karate and Julio Potato Chips
These nostalgic potato chip brands were hugely popular back in the day and widely loved in any Egyptian childhood, namely in the 90’s. Although they no longer exist, they are constantly remembered fondly and Karate’s karate instructions at the back of the bag is something that will forever be engraved in many of our minds.
The Magic Gum
This packet of gum almost made us actually believe in magic as we would enthusiastically chew and be amazed by the color changing gum. Sadly, El Leban el Sehry (The Magic Gum) is no longer to be found in today’s market, however the novelty of this once popular product is what made it a staple in our childhoods and Egypt’s snack culture.
Evidently Egypt’s snack culture is wide and diverse, having evolved a lot throughout the years. There will always be a series of nostalgic snacks that we will fondly reminisce over, snacks whose local brands will always make us proud, and new snacks that will appear and one day become another generation’s nostalgic snacks.
*Featured image is of Shamadan wafer biscuits, credit unknown