Tastin' With The Tramps: The Pot Noodle Fightback!

The distinguished members of TATTGOC sure do love their curry, as evidenced by their current title of Curry Lovers Of The Year. But their ongoing quest for spicy satisfaction isn't merely limited to TATTGOC's regular excursions to some of Glasgow's hidden-gem curryhouses. If they happen across almost any curry-related foodstuff or product, Trampy and The Tramp feel compelled to take it for a spin – and thus was born the irregular feature Tastin' With The Tramps, where TATTGOC's burly founders crack open the Kingfisher and get their laughing gear round something fiery. What curry-related foodstuff or product is in the hot seat this time? It's perennial student favourite and standby snack of casual labourers everywhere: Pot Noodle! Someone best get the kettle on ...

(Click here to keep reading ... after leaving to stand for two minutes)

The Product: Way back in October, the Tramps tangled with The Nation's Noodle, a Golden Wonder-branded instant hot snack that came in a rather insipid Chip Shop Curry flavour. Around the same time, Unilever – who bought the original Pot Noodle brand from Golden Wonder back in 1995 – launched an audacious ad campaign for a new "GTi" range of microwaveable mega-Pot Noodles, including a Tikka Masala version "containing real meat!" The Tramps instantly vowed to track down one of those piquant purple megapots (Trampy recently spotted the Chilli Con Carne and Spaghetti Bolognese variants in a Sauchiehall Street Londis but of the Tikka Masala there was nary a whiff). In preparation for that day of reckoning, they also thought it would be a good idea to calibrate their tastebuds by sampling the Original Curry Pot Noodle, and its younger, hipper cousin, the Bombay Bad Boy. Et voila!

The Pitch: From the official Pot Noodle website, a description of Original Curry: "Now considered a retro flavour amongst noodle followers, you'll often see a sachet of sweet mango chutney poking out of the pocket of a pair of skinny jeans. Its favourite tunes include Don't You Want Me by [The] Human League, and anything by Bananarama."

And for the Bombay Bad Boy: "This Pot Noodle snack is in no way implying that boys from Bombay are bad, or that anyone from Bombay is, in fact, bad. The hot-fire chilli sauce does kick some serious butt, though. Also available as King Pot."

The Packaging: Even just holding these plastic cups brings back a memory flash, like Proust biting into a madeleine and involuntarily reliving his childhood. The Original Curry branding harks back to the colourful packaging of Pot Noodles during their 1980s heyday while the Bombay Bad Boy – initially only available as a limited edition flavour but quickly promoted to shelf regular – comes in a distinctive black pot. It looks pretty cool ... if you were into black ash computer desks and had a poster of a Lamborghini Countach on your bedroom wall as a teenager. Is that kettle boiled yet?

The Process: Even if you think you've forgotten how to make a Pot Noodle, it's amazing how quickly it all comes back. The official instructions go something like this: "Rip off lid, add boiling water, leave to stand for two minutes, stir ... leave to stand for another two minutes (do not reheat)." Considering The Tramp's effectiveness in the kitchen, there was something slightly amusing about witnessing him boil a kettle. In an attempt to get the dry noodles as hydrated as possible, the Tramps left the pots for longer than the standard four minutes, although they did add the contents of the sachets toward the end of the macerating process. So what did they think?

Trampy says: "This brings back memories of sailing little Topper boats on St Mary's Loch as a kid. I was rubbish at sailing, and once even managed to lose my glasses over the side, but at the end of each exhausting, demoralising session there was the appealing prospect of a piping hot Pot Noodle before the minibus home. I tried the Original Curry flavour first and initially I thought it tasted remarkably like curry ... until I realised what I was actually remembering was the perennial Pot Noodle version of curry, which is essentially very mild curry powder and the odd pea. The noodles were chewy until halfway through the pot, but that's just the deal, right? The Bombay Bad Boy had much more of a kick, helped, I think, by the sachet of chilli sauce. If I were ever to take up sailing again, perhaps attempting to circumnavigate the globe in my trusty Topper, I would probably take along a few of these pots. And a powerful GPS transmitter so I could be rescued promptly."

The Tramp says: "For me, having a Pot Noodle is like travelling back in time – not necessarily a good thing, but it does bring back some fond memories of huddling round a two-bar heater back at university – although chicken and mushroom was my usual back then. I thought the Original Curry was a bit lacklustre, not really spicy – a weak version of an already outdated version of curry. Even the mango sachet didn’t add that much sweetness. It was also all a bit crispy, even after five minutes. It did soften up and thicken while I was eating it though. The Bombay Bad Boy was better but while it definitely had a kick there was no real flavour, and the freeze-dried vegetables didn't help. I think we need to track down the GTi Tikka Masala pretty quickly, the better to bring an end to this madness."

The Verdict: After surfing an initial wave of pleasant nostalgia, both Tramps were a little underwhelmed by these standard Pot Noodles. But the fact that the brand is still going – and seeing off The Nation's Noodle quite easily, judging by their comparative prominence on minimart shelves – means that they must be doing something right. Ultimately, it felt like this was all merely a theatrical preamble, a shadowplay of moving chesspieces around a cosmic board in preparation for the looming showdown with the Pot Noodle GTi Tikka Masala ("containing real meat!").

And so: the Tramps have a date with density.

Do you have a curry-related foodstuff you're launching into the crowded modern marketplace where a recommendation from appropriate enthusiasts might help? If so, drop us an introductory line at trampyandthetramp@trampyandthetramp.com and see YOUR product featured on ... Tastin' With The Tramps!

Mr Singh's Punjabi Chilli Sauce!
McCoy's Vs Golden Wonder!
The Nation's Noodle!
Mr Singh's Bangras!


Samual said...

Its a really great blog. An establishment like a boutique or retail store requires only short term informational or promotional signage, so the signs should be simple yet effective.

point of purchase displays