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From Traditional Spicy Mixture to Diet Mixture Becoming a New Normal

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By   Manish Aggarwal, Director, Bikano

The widely popular and ready-to-eat traditional spicy mixture has been a staple snack item for millions for decades now. The relatively low pricing, the taste quotient and the sheer convenience of consumption that it affords has always been an attraction for food and snack lovers. Moreover, its ubiquitous presence across all retail formats spanning from local kirana stores to huge departmental stores including online channels has made sure that the supplies have never fallen short and always kept pace with demand. However, the advent of diet mixture as another immensely popular snack item in recent years has come to present an alternative to traditional spicy mixture for patrons. This snacking journey from traditional spicy mixture to diet mixture can also said to be symbolizing a new normal for our food and snacking culture. As a matter of fact, the emergence of diet mixture as a favoured snack represents an innovation on the part of our traditional snack-making culinary experts as well as an improvement and upgrading in our food processing industry. 

The sheer variety of ingredients that make up diet mixture

So, what is so special about diet mixture that it has increasingly gained such traction and appeal among patrons? Perhaps the best and the biggest proposition that diet mixture offers to people is the sheer variety of foods, flavours and tastes that come in a single package of diet mixture. Aptly named diet mixture, it is typically made of an assortment of items ranging from flaked rice or poha to corn flakes to vegetable oil, and ricebran oil to husked Bengal gram besides several mixed spices such as mango powder and cumin powder etc.[1]

Diet mixture: a low calorie low fat option

The epithet diet in the diet mixture has been introduced with a view to communicate and deliver a health-driven messaging to food lovers. And now most brands and snack companies boast of this snack offering in their product portfolio. As the name suggests, this snack product is a low calorie low fat diet food containing ingredients aimed at striking a balance between the pleasures of the palate and the over-all calorie and fat maintenance needs of the body. Besides, this large array of ingredients coming in a single packet of diet mixture naturally offers the health benefits of several food items in one place. For instance, while poha is rich in fibre, healthy carbs and iron besides being a good probiotic,[2] cornflakes are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibres and particularly folic acid, which is critical to production of new blood cells. Similarly, rice bran oil has its own benefits.

Offers an altogether different taste

Although taste is a highly subjective attribute and can differ from person to person, unlike traditional spicy mixture’s typical and widely standardized salty/spicy taste, diet mixture offers a different taste altogether. It is right blend of salty, spicy, tangy, piquant and much more – all rolled into one. At the same time, it is low-fat, light-to-eat and a fresh snack item. Also, similar to traditional spicy mixture, diet mixture can also be combined with several commonly available beverages in our homes and markets. 

Popular among all age groups

Just as traditional spicy mixture is popular among all age groups including the middle-aged and the elderly, diet mixture has also found appeal and acceptance by all. The alluring sight of this snack is so tempting that whether it is the young or the old, everyone would readily munch it whenever and wherever it would be made available to them.   

Taking care of hygiene & safety: diet mixture comes in a package

Diet mixture by and large comes in a sealed package and is put on the market by established brands in organised industry. As such, the hygiene and food safety aspects particularly amplified by recent Covid-19 are duly covered by this snack item. With more and more people confined indoors and remote work increasingly becoming a norm, this easy-to-handle and convenient packaged snack item has been a life-saver of sorts for many pressed for time as well as short on kitchen supplies. By most accounts, packaged snacks and ready-to-eat food segments have seen more than usual traction during the recent pandemic-driven lifestyle adjustment months. Diet mixture has been a part of that emerging snacking story.

Therefore, the journey from the traditional spicy mixture to more contemporary diet mixture for snack-loving patrons reflects the maturity and growing sophistication of patrons and snack makers alike in the country. It also illustrates the evolution of our food processing industry. It is appropriate to mention here that not all processing methods are unhealthy. And by implication, not all processed foods are ‘absolutely unhealthy,’ as is generally believed. Regardless, it must be remembered that this new normal represents just a journey and the journey continues.  

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