Thursday, October 11, 2007

Campa Cola - Redux

After a long train spotting session I was headed towards my car parked near Shankar Market in Connaught Place. As I walked past the now familiar ruins of the Campa Cola factory, I couldn't help but be reminisce the good old school days when we drank that stuff by the liters !

Back in the eighties Campa Cola and its sister brands ruled the roost in India, with competition only from the Parle stable comprising Thums Up, Limca, Gold Spot and others. While I wouldn't go into which was more popular, here in Delhi - Campa ruled supreme, perhaps due to its Punjabi connections.

In our school, Campa brands had a monopoly in the school canteen and Campa Cola accounted for more than 95% of the sale. In school - Campa (hereafter referring to the Cola version only, except when indicated) was part of every aspect of our lives. Back then, one bottle of 200ml was 4 or 5 rupees, which meant we could have one virtually everyday! To spend a day without it was unheard of. We looked forward to functions in school - especially house functions when we would stay back late in school and be served loads of patties or chola bhaturas from Nathu's downed with liters of what else but Campa.

Sports days meant Campa, free periods meant Campa - but birthdays were the most special. Any friend's birthday meant a crate full of Campa for all and sundry. But this lot was hardly ever consumed - instead it was used to drench the birthday boy and girl to the point that his clothes would stink of the stuff for weeks. That done, the were carried off to the school pool and dunked in a ceremony worthy of the Republic Day parade!

Campa was what we grew up on, but the fizz for the company didn't last forever. The liberalization of the 90s meant that Coke and Pepsi returned to India with a vengeance. While Parle rolled over and played dead within months of their arrival - Campa soldiered on. While the generations that grew it, stood by for a few years; Gen -X all but fell prey to the new age marketing of the Cola giants. Poor ol' Campa stood no chance, and its internal feuds only hastened its demise. It struggled somehow into the late 90s but it was too much to ask for. Our school canteen too gave up on Campa and switched to Pepsi, who even ended up being our hockey team sponsor and then one fine day, there was Campa no more....

But wait... did I see some freshly painted Campa signs? Were they really Campa bottles stacked neatly in a stall situated in one corner of the factory? My curiosity got the better of me and I asked the person manning the stall if it was really the real thing? Well almost - news is that a Haryana based group has taken over the rights to the Campa name and its formulation. Campa is alive again and being bottled in a plant in Haryana and being sold in Delhi in limited quantity.

Of course I bought a bottle and drank it straight down. The taste seemed alright, in fact good and certainly very different from Coke / Pepsi / Thums Up !! But was it really the same taste? Well frankly, I don't know.... after all I was having it after nearly 12 years !! Whatever it was.... it did bring memories of those days back again.

Don't know how long will the bubble last, but while you can... go have it


chandni said...

lovely post :)

I somehow don't remember campa that fondly...may be because it was a a hit before I learnt to appreciate these things, I do remember it being around but didn't love it so much...but Gold spot has a place in my heart for sure so I completely relate to what you said...

were they around at the same time?

And on another note, how diff was that time when there was "one of each". We loved these things . Adding of choices has not brought all their values down...they are all the same!

Bharath said...


Didn't know you were a Goldspot fan too! I miss that thick and slightly slab sided bottle that held the orange.

During my early years in Hyderabad, there used to be a bottling plant near home and often on the way back from school, I would go straight to the plant and look at the security guards with sad - me want a bottle - look. And voila, out would come a nice, free bottle!

*Sigh*, miss those days.

nomad said...

ah !! gold spot... how can i forget that. back then, for every north indian, campa was synonymous with a soft drink (just like xerox is for photocopy). gold spot was the equivalent down south.

used to love the way my tongue went orange after each bottle

Sidhusaaheb said...

One of my mother's distant cousins used to work for the company and I used to get a lot of free stuff like T-shirts, erasers, pencil-boxes, etc., with the Campa Cola logo printed on to all such items, besides the occasional free crate of the soft-drink!


Good to know that it's back in production...


Zee said...

oh yes......absolutely anyone from our generation has lived on campa....
u forgot to mention how we would envy anyone who would get campa in their water bottles at lunch time....and how we even played a game called campa fanta in school
really cool post and really nice style of writing!

brij said...

may be i am too late to post's nice to hear that Campa is back; i've always loved it...i am sure gonna have it...anyways...u write good. :)