by Rauf Fadzilla

Pix Credit:
(The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist. KuihLapisKu does not endorse any opinions on the topic unless specified.)

Every generation has something that defines it. Similarly, their collective personalities are driven by a trend (or several trends) that come from their shared subconscious history.

Without even realising it, these trends and products undoubtedly influenced the way in which this generation grew up and the habits that they display as they age into adulthood.

For example, kids growing up during World War II in Malaysia would be very familiar with tapioca. It was the staple of the time. I like to think that this made them very down-to-earth or very boring adults. (Ed: funnily enough, the modern day hipsters - aka the bubble-tea generation - are known for consuming a lot of pearls made from tapioca!)

Well, what about my generation?

As a child growing up in KL during the late-80s and early-90s, you would no doubt have been fooled time and time again (as I was) by the siren song of the Roti Man (translate: bread delivery guy) and the mind-numbingly colourful television propaganda of the cheap toy manufacturer.

This irresistible combination proved too much to bear not just for me, but for countless kids from my generation. In fact, their propaganda was the equivalent of a warped, hypnotic, mind control broadcast that lulled away all sense of caution before sucking the unwary child into its grasp.

These dastardly TV commercials were designed to complement their equally audacious little cardboard boxes that featured a packet of cheap chocolate coated biscuits.

Pix Credit:
Remember these babies?
But you didn’t care about that…

Most of the time, the cheap chocolate balls would have pathetically melted the minute you got a hold of them and were consistently squashed up in the packet. You would then either have to throw them away or wolf them down without tasting anything.

But when the Roti Man came around blaring on his horn, you and all the other kids in the neighbourhood came running out again didn’t you? Didn’t you! And you'd be carrying a pocket full of loose change that was the result of your hardwork (read: savings or being brave enough to ask the parents!).

Pix Credit: NST Online
Go forth and multiply, you and your brilliant 'stache!
As you peeled open the box expectantly, the world seemed to disappear and all you ever cared about at the time was one thing and one thing only, the toy…

The dog-gone plastic toy that the TV had you hooked on!

Let me put on my Shakesphere hat here: Oh the pure wickedness and unholy abomination of it all.

The genius of the cheap toy manufacturer was unmatched at the time. These guys seemed to have a monopoly over the minds of children everywhere due to the fact that they were the main sponsors of the 5pm cartoon shows that drew the little blighters like Moses on the mount.

No doubt, the wily cheap toy manufacturers owed a large part of their success to the superb and unbeatable TV spots that were shown during the kids' prime time.
The opening CG is impressive even  for a cheap toy TVC

The result?

It is my belief that these pseudo pop-culture platforms are one of the contributors to the genesis of the social media generation or Gen Y. Since most of them have grown up around this era and seem to be obsessed with anything and everything that amuses them, which they then share, link to and forward into oblivion. It's a deadly cycle that will go on and on and on until the novelty subsides or until the next big "small, insignificant yet exceptionally viral trend" emerges.

I attribute this form of obsession to the cheap toy and junk food manufacturers as well as their erstwhile, yet very likely innocent cohort, the Roti Man. I seek to expose their conspiracy to create a generation obsessed with the small and insignificant. The conspiracy's plot: to secure a steady pool of customers who will buy into their nonsense. It will be exposed for what it is thereby liberating our generation from the cycle of obsession with the proverbial valueless junk.

Stay tuned for part 2 as we examine the conspiracy.

Till then...

Look! Here’s a collectible sticker (Right click to save). Collect them all!

Testimonies (taken verbatim and given due credit) from other post hypnotised kids:
Timothy Tiah, Blogger and Big Kahuna of Nuffnang
Man…these were exactly the kind of ads that hit 6-year old Timmy when he was watching cartoons between 5.30pm-6.00pm on weekdays. These cool ads for Tora and Ding Dang will come on and showcase kids playing with the fun toys they got from the chocolates they bought. I don’t know what happened to Tora and Ding Dang and if they still have them…but I always remember two things. The actual chocolate sucks a$$. I don’t think anybody ever bought it for the chocolate. Everybody though bought it for the cool little toy they have inside. The other thing I also remember is feeling disappointed when I eventually see the toy. When the kids play with their toys on the TVCs it looks so cool, like it could fly and do all sorts of things that even toys today can’t. But when you actually buy the product and open up the toy packaging…you see just some crap piece of plastic. I keep falling for it though. Over and over again I will see a new Tora and Ding Dang TVC and buy the product over and over again.

Suanie, Blogger 
This was the 80s when marketing on television was at its best. Every day there’d be advertisements on telly (during the cartoon hours) for Ding Dang and Tora, introducing the toy of the week! There’d be happy children showing you how to play with the toy, and they looked darn happy doing it. I’d never been able to accomplish what they did (e.g. making the plastic helicopter fly) but I’d be sucked in to the whole shindig and continue to buy it whenever I could. Usually I throw away the snack - even at a young age I knew what tasted good and doesn’t.