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BACKSTORY: Biscuit was not the first choice for Parle Products

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BACKSTORY: Biscuit was not the first choice for Parle Products

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Mohanlal Dayal Chauhan got into the confectionary business and set up the ‘House of Parle’ in 1928 but he started his career in the garment business as an 18-year-old.

BACKSTORY: Biscuit was not the first choice for Parle Products
This article first appeared as a thread on Twitter by @palakzat
For millions in this country, who munch on biscuits along with their morning or evening cup of tea, Parle-G has become a byword for biscuits, just like Xerox is synonymous with photocopying, and Cadbury with chocolates.
Yet, making biscuits was not part of the plan when Mohanlal Dayal Chauhan and his sons got into the confectionary business and set up the ‘House of Parle’ in 1928.
Then again, confectionary was not the first choice of business for Dayal, who had started his career in the garment business as an 18-year-old.
It was only after his sons came of age and joined Dayal at work did he think of foraying into a new line of business. After considering various options, Dayal decided on confectionary and towards that end, he travelled to Germany to learn the technology of the business.
In 1928, Mohanlal Dayal founded the 'House of Parle'. It was named after the Mumbai suburb it was located in - Vile Parle. The first factory with the requisite machinery was set up in 1929.
Parle initially started by producing sweets, peppermints, and toffees made of glucose, pure sugar, and milk. It employed 12 family members initially, and between them, they handled everything from engineering, manufacturing, and packaging of the products.
The candy ‘Orange Bite’ was among the first products to roll off the production belts.
Biscuits were a premium product back then and were mostly consumed by the British and upper-class Indians. Also, most biscuits were imported back then.
It was in 1938 that Parle decided to come out with a biscuit which even the common man could afford. That is how Parle Gluco was born. Since it was very affordable and readily available, it quickly became a hit among Indians. There was a nationalist angle to it as well. By creating a product that found acceptance among the masses, India had come up with an answer to the British brand of biscuits, which only the privileged could afford.
But the success of Parle Gluco was not restricted to Indian shores. During World War II, it became a go-to biscuit for the soldiers in the British-Indian army.
Encouraged by the success, Parle produced India's first salted cracker—Monaco---in the early 1940s.
After the Partition of 1947, Parle had to stop production of Parle Gluco because wheat—the main ingredient-- was short in supply. To tide over the problem, Parle started producing and selling biscuits made out of barley.
By the late 1940s, Parle had created the world's longest oven of that time-- about 250 feet long.
Over the years, other brands started entering the market with 'Gluco' or 'Glucose' in their names. Britannia came up with their brand of glucose biscuits called 'Glucose D'.
To keep up their sales and stand out in the market, Parle Gluco changed its name to 'Parle-G' in the 80s, introduced it in a new package with white and yellow stripes, and the illustration of 'Parle-G Girl' - or the package design that we know of, today.
Originally, the "G" in Parle-G stood for "Glucose" which was later changed to "Genius" in the early 2000s.
There are multiple stories about who the Parle-G girl is. It was recently clarified that the featured Parle-G girl was just an illustration done by Everest Creative's artist Maganlal Daiya in the 60s, from his imagination.
Today, Parle-G has more than 130 factories and is present in more than 5 million retail stores across India. Parle-G produces more than a billion packets of biscuits every month. Parle-G is available even in the most remote parts of India today - where no other biscuits are available.
Palat Zatakia is Founder of Sublist, which puts out curated lists of interesting content.
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