New Delhi: A young kid takes a break from doing his homework, pops in a few fruity candies and the next moment, his room turns into a dancefloor with scantily-clad dancers coming to life from within a television set.
Then a tagline flashes across the screen — “Anything can happen in the Marbels world”.
If one can recall the ‘trippy’ ad from the early 2000s, the memories of the bright mauve-coloured packs of Mentos’ fruit candies soon follow. The chewy, sweet-sour Marbels were all the rage in the early years of the last decade. Packed in a variety of fruity flavours — orange, strawberry, mango, lime, watermelon — the candy packet tried to condense the taste of a fruit basket into bite-sized treats.
“I liked the mango flavour the best. I remember its texture was like chewing gum, but it was just regular candy that you could eat it all up,” said Vani Rana, a 25-year-old game testing associate from Delhi.
Marbels competed on the shelves alongside Poppins and Fruitella. Its hard exterior cover contrasted with a gooey interior making it a delectable choice during its time.
“You didn’t have to worry about a tree growing inside your tummy after you ate it,” she laughed.
More than the flavours, it was the vibrant colour that caught the attention of the kids and adults alike. Marble’s TV ads, which also catered to an older audience, were a testament to its popularity across all ages.
Class 12 student Devashish Kaushik faintly remembered Marbels, not by its name but by the lively colours of the candies.
“One pack was shared among friends. We used to choose the candy without looking at it. Green was considered the unluckiest. Pink was also quite lame. Orange and yellow meant luck. But Red was superior— getting it was like winning a game with unsaid rules,” he said.
Marbels also stuck to the popular packaging trend of the previous decade and doled out tiny seasonal ‘gifts’ or ‘prizes’ to its customers. Whether it was the sticker cards of WWE wrestlers or a whistling toy, these giveaways attracted buyers. Its cheap pricing at Rs 5 also contributed to its popularity.
The origin of Marbels
Mentos first started producing out of Netherland in 1932 and later expanded to 130 countries. Its quintessential products were scotch mints and fruit flavoured candies. Mentos started its journey in India in 1999, according to its website. By 2003, the company got “Indianized” with its witty “dimaag ki batti jala de” tagline.
The tagline, which in English means “turning on your brain”, became a part of the local lingo in no time.
Mentos attributed its success in India to its advertising, which it claimed was “funny, exaggerated and immensely memorable”. Marbels is one of the products the company launched in the country in the early 2000s.
Why did Marbels disappear
When Marbels suddenly disappeared from the counters in India around 2016-17, it became a source of mystery. Though Mentos continues to bring out new products, Marbels remains elusive on its official website. The product hardly has any internet footprint either, despite the popularity in its heydays.
Nikhil George, a researcher at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, doesn’t exactly remember when he stopped seeing Marbels in the markets but he dearly misses it.
“One day in college, I was watching an American show where the characters talked about skittles and I instantly remembered Marbels. I couldn’t recall when was the last time I had them and felt very nostalgic about it. I don’t understand what could be the reason for their unexpected disappearance,” he said.
ThePrint reached out to the Gurgaon branch of Perfetti Van Melle India, an Italian-Dutch corporation that oversees the manufacturing and distribution of Mentos.
Rohit Kapoor, the head of marketing at Perfetti, said that though Marbels did well in its time, it had a demand “only in some pockets”, mostly concentrated in the southern states.
“We have a large portfolio and several new innovations lined up for launch every year. Hence in terms of new priorities and providing more focus on them, we had to discontinue this product,” he said.
Although it might be hard to get your hands on those chewy delights now, Mentos hasn’t let down their fans. Their new ‘stick pack chewies’, which come in orange, mint, cola and rainbow flavours, might not be an exact replica but bears a close resemblance to the good ol’ Marbels. Sold in a pack of eight pieces, it is a concise and modern avatar of the old candy.
However, the repackaging hasn’t been able to impress some of the loyal Mentos consumers.
“I have tasted the new flavours. They are nice but not the same as Marbels, which was one of a kind. First, their shape is all different and the texture also isn’t right. I sincerely hope Mentos one day decides to bring it back. That would be lovely,” Nikhil concluded.
(Edited by Monami Gogoi)