The other day, my mom showed me this old plastic container with the familiar yellow colour and the words “DALDA” made on Aug/1982, which she had preserved for decades as her emergency piggybank.

For decades whenever we brought to the house any product made outside, she will take a bite and say this tastes like DALDA, it is not good for health, so eat little. Looking back, I think she used the term as a bogeyman to keep our eating in check – as kids we didn’t know to tell the difference between products cooked in Desi Ghee or DALDA and we believed her.

In the early 20th century, when it was introduced to help the masses eat tastier who couldn’t afford the high prices of Desi Ghee. Later, as Indian growth story happened, the ill effects on the health was getting discussed widely, and DALDA became a synonym for adulteration in sweets sold in shops or served in marriage feasts.

Some history that I read about DALDA in an article on The Hindu Business line by Ms Malathy Sriram: Once ubiquitous in Indian Households and a cultural phenomenon even in movies was DALDA, which was Vanaspati or Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil. In 1931 by Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Company (part of today’s Hindustan Unilever/HLL) was created to make them. The name DALDA is an amalgam of Dada & Co — the original Dutch company which introduced the product into India – and the ‘L’ of Hindustan Lever.

DALDA - Vanaspathi - Plastic Container from 1982

DALDA – Vanaspati – Plastic Container from 1982

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