Do you recognise the biscuit that the kids are eating?
According to the packaging its called the “Wafer Biscuit”, but to me it is known as the “10 cents colorful biscuit”. Why so? Cause in the past when I was like the kids age, I bought them for 10 cents each at the Mama Shop in my neighboring block.
So what is a Mama Shop? I like how Wikipedia explains it. In short, it is a convenience store that operates at the void deck of our flats and it covers just a very small area.
I remember the Mama Shop that I frequent when I was young is so small that there is only the “shop front” and we can’t get into the shop. However, its still a paradise for the kids as the place is stocked full of tidbits. I remember at least two rolls of sweets in rectangular plastic containers. You get flavors like “Sasi”, “Cola”, “Hacks” and “Barley”. Its only 3 for 10 cents. There are other snacks like “Jack & Jill” potato chips (which we later ditch for Calbee Hot and Spicy potato chips), “KaKa”, “Cheekadee”, “BeeBee” and “Cheezels”, which are in big transparent plastic bags that are either placed beside the sweets are hung around the area. They cost from 20 to 50 cents each.
At the side of the shop, there are tins and tins of biscuits in metal container stack on top of one another. The container is made with a transparent ‘window’ to show the type of biscuit inside. The buyer will then select and buy it in grams. Our favourite has got to be the chocolate wafer biscuit and the durian wafer biscuit wrapped in another layer of crispy cookie.
Inside the “shop” where the store owner stands is a big fridge that holds all the different can and packet drinks. My favorite has got to be the Melon Vitasoy and “Sng Bao” aka Ice Bag. There are the home made ones and the factory made ones. The home made sour plum Sng Bao is my favorite. My parents use to forbid us from eating that cause its just sugar water with coloring. But you know, when they are not around, the kids will do what they are told not to.
And when you need to make payment, the shop owner will pull down a Milo tin from over his head to put the money in and there will always be a sound of a bell. I was always fascinated at that young age on how they manage to hang the Milo tin there and how the mechanism work. Of course, when I grew later and learn about science, I found out its a simple pulley system. The bell is just there to let ‘people’ know that ‘somebody’ is accessing the Milo tin.
Unfortunately, as the country progresses, the Mama Shops are slowly replaced by chain convenience stores that operates in a bigger space with air-conditioning. The Milo Tin cash register are replaced by computerized cash register that is often link to a barcode scanner. The lovely bell sound haven’t been heard for a long long time.
The snacks that I mention can still be found in some places. However, the charm and fascination of a Mama Shop cannot be found in a chain convenience store anymore. The art of displaying so much goodies in a small space is probably lost.
So how does your childhood Mama Shop looks like?