Looking back at your younger days, primary school may have seemed like a drag, having to carry heavy books up flights of stairs or trying hard to stay awake during classes.
However, there’s one period that most people remember fondly — recess. This was the one time of the day where you could hang out with your friends at the canteen and grab a snack to recharge before facing the rest of your classes.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and recount 10 childhood canteen snacks you’ll definitely remember!
#1. Chicken nuggets
Whether in the shape of a pine tree or heart, chances are you’ve had them in your local school canteen. They’re often served in threes (or fours if you’re friends with the mak cik) for RM1.
Just like their multiple shapes, you can savour these crunchy, crumbed chicks in a variety of ways. Some prefer them soaked in chilli sauce while others mix them with their nasi lemak. Regardless of the how, it’s not hard to see why chicken nuggets are a must-have at any school canteen.
#2. Mat Kool ice cream
After a long Pendidikan Jasmani session or day in a stuffy classroom, there’s nothing quite like a frozen popsicle. One of the more popular choices of frosty treats were the oh-so-good Mat Kool ice creams.
They don’t only taste delicious but they’re also a lot of fun to eat — especially the Traffic Light popsicle that changes colour with each layer you lick away. If you’ve ever tried one of these, then you’d know that Mat Kool truly is kawanmu.
#3. Rocky biscuit sticks
During recess, there’s always that one person who is constantly being hassled to share his box of Rocky. Can you blame the other kids though? They’re the perfect bite-sized snack to have without getting grease or stains on your uniform.
The best part about snacking on them is the way you could pretend you were a character from a movie who is holding a long cigarette holder — a very tasty one. You can even nibble on them like beavers while doing homework. Those biscuits rock!
#4. Keropok lekor
We certainly couldn’t leave this classic off our list. A specialty of Terengganu, keropok lekor are an excellent bit of fishy protein made with mackerel or herring fish, sago flour and a little bit of salt. They taste even better when they’re fresh out of the fryer.
You may have had heated debates with your friends on whether the softer, chewier version was better than its crispier cousin. Nonetheless, everyone agrees that you need a healthy smattering of chilli sauce to complement its unique flavour.
Oh yes, sausages. Not hot dogs, just plain old weiners. You’ve probably seen them before, served in little clear plastic baggies that barely cover them.
In spite of their humble aesthetic, come recess they’d be sold out in minutes! Then again, a freshly-cooked juicy sausage does have its appeal — especially since most Malaysians seem to enjoy the simple things out of life. No buns? No problem!
#6. Apollo layer cakes
If you were a student with a short recess period, a.k.a a prefect, then Apollo Layer Cakes — sweet, scrumptious mini sponge cakes with a yummy spread in between its layers — may have been your guilty pleasure.
They are also convenient to eat, on the count of their small sizes. You could keep them in your bag, under your desk and even in your pants pockets. Sometimes, you’d see a cheeky classmate snack on them during classes. The risk was worth it though.
#7. Ice pops
For those who couldn’t afford ice cream or canned drinks but wanted something cool, ice pops were often the alternative at only 20 cents a piece. These vibrant tubes of coloured ice doubled as both a popsicle and a drink, depending on how fast you could finish them.
The fact that they’re often seen floating in a bucket of ice water wasn’t enough to keep you away. Furthermore, there’s just something so cathartic about sucking on an ice pop.
#8. Seasoned seaweed
Do you remember these seaweed snacks from China’s Nantong Zhongye Company?
Thanks to their crispy texture and savoury flavour, they are highly addictive to munch on. We’re certain that you had a friend who would rush over to the snack stand to devour at least 5 packets in one go! It certainly helped that it was cheap — you could have a row of them for just RM1! And if your parents ever asked if you had eaten any vegetables in school, you could technically say yes.
#9. Mamee Monster
From the wafer-like chips of Shoyuemi to the thick noodle biscuits of Mi-Mi, noodle snacks were a common choice back then and things certainly haven’t changed.
Still, none of them come close to the king, Mamee Monster. There’s something so satisfying about having a pack of these crunchy, savoury treats. Maybe it’s because you can eat it however you want — either breaking it up into little chunks or eating it as a whole. You can also regulate its taste with the little packet of seasoning that you’ll find at the bottom of the packet. Now that’s instant noodles!
#10. Nyam Nyam Rice Crispy
If you’ve never had a Nyam Nyam Rice Crispy treat before, then you should seriously consider getting one today. They’re a blast to eat!
Each cup of Nyam Nyam has 2 compartments — one filled with gooey milk chocolate and the other full of tiny crispy rice balls. Use the provided stick to sweep up some chocolate before dipping it into the sea of rice balls. Crunchy, creamy and colourful, it’s everything a kid could want out of a sweet snack.
There’s a common saying that “food is a universal language” and that could not be truer. In this case, your childhood snacks may have become a part of your personal memory, which evokes a sense of nostalgia for your primary school days. Although those days are long gone, you can still look back on them with fond memories.