Monday, May 15, 2006

Blast From My Past Pt1 - Mat Sentul And Junk Food

Today we talk about Mat Sentul, the veteran filmmaker. I remember my first fond memory of him... this angular faced (with bulging eyes) actor in his James Bond parody, Mat Bond. I remember when he had to flush the toilet to open the secret door to access his car. They were really cheap 'special effects' but they were fun!

Mat Sentul arose from the P Ramlee movie era and back when our only home entertainment was boring RTM1 and RTM2 (terrestrial TV), Mat Sentul was definitely welcome to grace our National (WAY before Matsushita changed all their electric appliance names to Panasonic) TVs.

Subsequent to that, Mat Sentul gradually disappeared from making movies. He found lucrative business in making REALLY cheapo and campy TV advertisements for junk food. How many of us still hear his voice haunting us with "Ding Dang!" and "Tora!" and also "Kum Kum!"? I think the most recent set of adverts he did was "Apollo!" If not mistaken, he even did some cameos in them.

Talking about junk food, Ding Dang (or was it Tora) was the creme de la creme back then. At RM1.50 (which was a hefty sum for us schoolkids), Ding Dang gave us chocolate biscuit balls but the MAIN attraction were the toys in those boxes (graced with pictures of Doraemon). Those toys... ahhhh they were the epitome of avant garde toy technology. For those with less to spend on these luxuries, we would buy a packet of Kum Kum - at 20sen, it was a DAMN BIG surprise to find a toy inside. The toys were probably single coloured plastic bits but they were fun nonetheless. I remember in 1983 (I think), one of them had a big long plastic balloon thingy that you could blow up... it was around 4-5 feet in length!

That said, junk food started further back. There was Chickadees (which was recently revived), Twistees (the original satay flavour is still the best... it's not the same now and they changed the red packaged flavour of Curry to Cheese) among other things. I think the first one that started this nonsense of putting toys in packets of junk food was Mamee.

In case you didn't know, Mamee in the late 70s was purely an instant noodle brand (you just had to put hot water in it). However, Mamee discovered that more and more people were eating their noodles uncooked so they came up with a mascot (Mamee monster) and repackaged their instant noodles into junk food. It's still the same crap though but the portions are MUCH smaller now. You can still put about 4 packets of Mamee (with seasoning) into a big bowl, pour in boiling water and cover the bowl with a plate for 5 minutes... try it! It's one of the best chicken flavoured instant noodles ever! My parents used to scold me for eating this crap. Back then, Mamee came in 2 versions; the 20sen one which everyone is familiar with and the 5sen packet which is a smaller packet filled with Mamee crumbs (already seasoned).

Anyway, Mamee started this toy crap... I remember in 1981, they had this redemption plan where if you collected a few empty wrappers of Mamee and topped up with around RM3+, you could get a green plastic piggy bank which you would assemble yourself. The following year, 1982, Mamee came up with an ingenious idea buy putting in flags of the world into each packet. You could buy a album from them and stick those flags inside. It was truly ingenious... not only was it educational, it was also unhealthy!

For more on my past, tune in to Part 2 coming soon...