In Bengaluru, an online home chef-sourced snack brand is packaging its offerings with thematic cartoons
Packaged junk food and snacks flew off the shelves of supermarkets in the beginning of lockdown. Then, snackers began to look inwards. Gradually, families began to congregate in the kitchen, leading to a revival of sorts, of homemade, traditional South Indian savouries and sweets. This motivated Sairam Gopalan to launch an online snack store in January, the groundwork for which he started in July 2020.
“During the lockdown, while I was chatting with my cousin who runs a sweets and snacks business in Tirunelveli, I struck upon this idea of an online native traditional snack store,” says Bengaluru-based Sairam. The entrepreneurwas keen to focus on women’s empowerment, so he decided to source his food items from families living in the agraharams in Tirunelveli. He named his online store, www.northmadastreet.com.
“Once I had enlisted cooks who could supply snacks consistently, I focussed on packaging them in a way to attract young customers,” says Sairam. The packing has a cartoon character and a tag line, which is based on current affairs, political developments or sports, and this is linked to the snack.
“The idea was to create it on the lines of RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days, nostalgic, satirical and funny,” says S Muralidharan, Chennai-based cartoonist and a long time friend of Sairam. “While I was working on designing the logo, this idea of cartoon struck me and therefore I reached out to Murali with this idea and he instantly agreed. He found the idea of concept snacks with thematic cartoons, appealing,” says Sairam.
At present, the packs have jokes on work from home (WFH), Zoom meetings, online classes and the upcoming elections. “Every joke will be connected to the product inside the package. For example, I have named ‘manoharam’ (a sweet jaggery murukku) as the relationship builder with a joke,” says Murali. Going forward, themes will be updated periodically.
Packaging aside, Sairam’s main focus was identifying and employing home chefs who excelled in preparing a particular variety of snack or sweet. “I was keen on this model, as I was sure that this would be an opportunity for me to where I can enhance the livelihood of women in rural areas. These woman are keeping our traditions alive,” he says,
This belief stems from his personal experience: “During my school days in Mylapore [Chennai], I used to go from house to house selling vadams and vathals which my mom used to make. Later when we shifted to Anna Nagar, I would try convincing the owner of supermarkets to display the products my mother made, but they would never accept non-branded items,” he reminisces, adding that he considers his mother as his first CEO.
When Sairam took up a career in sales and lived overseas for over 18 years, he says that it was the lessons he learnt while marketing his mother’s homemade food products that helped him most.
The online store focusses on Tirunelveli’s regional specialities such as kai murukku, manoharam, thenkuzhal, ribbon pakoda and special mixture. Adhirasam and the iconic Tirunelveli halwa are the most popular sweets from the region. Staple spice mixtures such as sambar and rasam podi, idli podi and thenga podi also are sold here. “Apart from Tirunelveli snacks, I also source savouries like kara Sev, kara boondi, chakli and spicy banana chips in and around Mangalore,” he says.
Sairam repackages the food items in Bengaluru before they are dispatched to customers.
There are currently 16 different savouries, sweets and spice mixes items available on the website. Products are shipped across India.
For more information, log on to www.northmadastreet.com or call 9008948259.