Story of India's Iconic Biscuit - Parle G

You can listen to the Hindi version of this post here.

When it comes to biscuits, there's one name that immediately comes to mind for most Indians - Parle-G. This iconic biscuit brand holds a special place in the hearts of people of all ages, invoking nostalgia and cherished memories of childhood.

In this blog post, we'll take you on a journey through the fascinating history of Parle-G, from its humble beginnings to its enduring presence in the Indian market.

The Birth of an Icon:

The story of Parle-G is intertwined with India's struggle for independence. In an era when foreign goods dominated the Indian market, Mohanlal Dayal, a silk merchant, was determined to change that. Influenced by the Swadeshi movement, he envisioned creating a candy that was made in India and accessible to all.

The Visionary Behind Parle-G: Mohanlal Dayal and the Swadeshi Movement

Mohanlal Dayal's entry into the world of confectionery biscuits was driven by a deep commitment to the Swadeshi movement during a time when foreign goods dominated the Indian market. His story is one of resilience and determination in the pursuit of a dream to provide an affordable and indigenous alternative to imported candies.

You can watch the Hindi version of this post here.

In 1929, Mohanlal Dayal, a silk merchant, purchased an old factory in Vile Parle, Mumbai. Inspired by the Swadeshi movement, he aimed to create a candy that was entirely made in India and accessible to all. To realize this vision, he embarked on a journey to Germany, where he acquired the necessary knowledge and skills in confectionery production.

Upon returning to India with a confectionery machine he purchased in Germany for Rs 60,000, Mohanlal Dayal set the stage for his venture. The factory, initially staffed by family members, saw individuals from his family assume various roles, including engineers, managers, and confectionery makers. Interestingly, the company was so focused on its mission that it didn't have a name initially and was eventually named "Parle" after its location.

The Birth of Parle Gluco Biscuit and Its Role in World War II

While the Parle factory had its beginnings in confectionery, it wasn't until 1939 that it expanded into the biscuit market. This expansion marked a pivotal moment in the history of Parle, particularly with the introduction of Parle-Gluco biscuits in 1938.

|  Instagram | Facebook | YouTube |Twitter | Podcast |

These biscuits were revolutionary because they were not only made in India but were also priced affordably, making them accessible to the masses. At the time, imported biscuits were expensive and catered mainly to the affluent. However, with the advent of Parle-Gluco biscuits, the Indian market saw a transformation.

As World War II raged on, Parle-Gluco biscuits gained immense popularity, not only among the Indian population but also among Indian and British soldiers who carried them as a source of sustenance during the war. The demand for these biscuits skyrocketed, overshadowing even established British brands in the market.

The Enigmatic Parle-G Girl: A Symbol of Nostalgia

One of the most enduring and endearing aspects of Parle-G's branding is the iconic image of the little girl featured on the packaging. This image has become synonymous with the brand and has stirred curiosity and nostalgia among consumers for generations. However, there are some fascinating facts and stories about this enigmatic Parle-G girl:

The Real Identity: Many have speculated about the identity of the girl on the Parle-G packaging, with some even claiming it to be a childhood photo of Sudha Murthy, the renowned philanthropist and chairperson of Infosys Foundation. However, it's essential to clarify that the image is not a real photograph but rather an illustration created by Maganlal Daiya of Everest Brand Solutions.

Evolution of the Parle-G Girl: Over the years, the Parle-G girl has evolved and become more sophisticated in her depiction. Despite this evolution, the image has retained its classic charm and remains instantly recognizable to consumers.

Nostalgic Appeal: Parle-G has skillfully leveraged the nostalgic appeal of the Parle-G girl in its marketing campaigns. The image has been an integral part of the brand's storytelling, contributing to its enduring popularity.

|  Instagram | Facebook | YouTube |Twitter | Podcast |

Mohanlal Dayal's vision, the birth of Parle-Gluco biscuits, and the enduring presence of the Parle-G girl all play crucial roles in the rich history of Parle-G. These elements combine to create a brand that transcends time and continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Indians, invoking fond memories and a sense of nostalgia with every bite.

The Biscuit Revolution:

It wasn't until 1939, nearly a decade after the factory's inception, that Parle entered the biscuit market. Up until then, biscuits in India were imported and expensive, affordable only to the wealthy. Brands like United Biscuit, Huntly & Palmers, Britannia, and Glaxo ruled the market.

Parle introduced its biscuits under the name "Parle-Gluco" in 1938, marking a turning point. These biscuits were priced affordably, made in India, and designed for the common people. They quickly gained popularity and even accompanied Indian and British soldiers during World War II. At its peak, Parle-Gluco commanded over 70 per cent of the biscuit market share.

However, post-independence, wheat shortages forced a temporary halt in Gluco biscuit production. To address this, Parle started making barley-based biscuits, paying tribute to freedom fighters and urging consumers to switch temporarily.

Adapting to Competition:

By the 1960s, several other brands began producing glucose biscuits, leading to market confusion and impacting Parle's sales. In response, the company revamped its packaging, introducing the iconic yellow wax paper with a depiction of a little girl and red Parle branding. This girl's image became synonymous with the brand, although it was an illustration by Maganlal Daiya of Everest Brand Solutions.

The Transformation into Parle-G:

As competition intensified, particularly from Britannia's Glucose-D biscuits, Parle decided to rebrand its product. It relaunched the biscuit as "Parle-G," with the 'G' signifying glucose. The packaging also shifted to a more cost-effective printed plastic cover, setting Parle-G apart from imitators.

Over the years, Parle-G featured several memorable taglines, including "Swaad Bhare, Shakti Bhare," and even had Shaktimaan, a beloved Indian superhero, as its brand endorser. The biscuit's marketing evolved with messages like "G Mane Genius" and "Hindustan Ki Takt," often touching on social themes and nostalgia.

Remaining Affordable and Accessible:

Parle-G maintained a low-profit margin strategy, producing on a large scale to keep prices affordable. This approach allowed people to continue enjoying their favourite biscuits without a significant price increase. The brand opted to reduce packet weight instead of raising prices during challenging times.

                                                                       |  Instagram | Facebook | YouTube |Twitter | Podcast |

A Taste of Nostalgia:

The COVID-19 lockdown saw a surge in Parle-G sales as people relied on it during their journeys home. Even in these modern times, Parle Products produces an astonishing 400 million Parle-G biscuits every day.

Parle-G is more than just a biscuit; it's a symbol of simplicity and reliability that has become an integral part of the Indian collective memory. So, the next time you pick up a packet of Parle-G, remember that you're holding a piece of India's history and a treasure trove of memories. Enjoy this delightful journey through the world of Parle-G, and savour life's simple joys.

Thank you for joining us on this sweet and nostalgic voyage. Until next time, keep snacking and relishing life's simple pleasures.

Neerja Bhatnagar

These are my social handles, let us connect on them.

|  Instagram | Facebook | YouTube |Twitter | Podcast |

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023