My interest in Framroz's Aerated Waters was aroused when I came across 3 different old photos recently with the name "Framroz" on them. The first photo is an entry from someone called Krishna Kumar which was displayed at the "Then & Now" photo exhibition at Orchard Central in August this year:
Krishna said, "Could this really be Jalan Besar Stadium? You could be forgiven for not recognising it, as in its place today stands a modern stadium with state-of-the-art facilities that easily eclipses this nondescript image of a bygone era, with its ill-attired athletes reverberating the nonchalance of a period long forgotten."
Well, I certainly didn't forget this place as my secondary school
was just next door. In the early 1970s, Jalan Besar Stadium was usually the venue where the Victoria School football team played most of their matches against other schools.
But I digressed. Notice the building with the big word "FRAMROZ" at the right of the photo? It was located at the plot of land bounded by Jalan Besar Road, Allenby Road and Tyrwhitt Road, i.e. the photo was taken in a north-westerly direction. Incidentally, Framroz in Jalan Besar was mentioned in ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) newsletter of Aug 2000
to be already equipped with "some kind refrigeration plant with cooling tower or evaporative condensers" in the early 1950s.
The second photo was taken by Michael Frost circa 1948:
I didn't realise that it was a scene from Orchard Road - more precisely, Emerald Hill or Peranakan Place - until Icemoon blogged about it here
. You can't miss the "Framroz's Aerated Waters" sign in the above photo.
The third photo was taken from this blog by Singeo
. The original photographer was a Czech by the name of Dr Baum who took this photo of what is believed to be Framroz's shop at No. 87 Cecil Street in 1929:
Framroz Aerated Water Factory was started in Singapore by a Parsi named Mr. Phirozshaw Manekji Framroz in 1903. I don't know how long the company lasted but in Mar 1973, Framroz (Pte) Ltd was awarded SISIR's Quality Award for Soft Drinks. Several congratulatory advertisements appeared in the Straits Times of 10 Mar 1973
. Hence, Framroz must have lasted well into the 1970s.
In its heydays, Framroz must have produced millions of bottles of aerated water annually. Yet would you believe that I couldn't even find a single photo of a Framroz bottle to show you? All I managed to find are photos of 2 ashtrays and a drinking glass which bear the Framroz logo:
From the above objects, you could tell that the Framroz logo was a crown. Hence I believe that the Cantonese used to call this drink 皇帽汽水 or "Crown Aerated Water". (I couldn't find any information to support this belief. Can someone please help to confirm this?)
Have you noticed that almost nobody uses the term "aerated water" nowadays? Instead, people prefer to use the term "soft drink". And the reason, according to this link
is as follows:"As flavored carbonated beverages gained popularity, manufacturers struggled to find an appropriate name for the drinks. Some suggested 'marble water', 'syrup water', and 'aerated water'. The most appealing name, however, was 'soft drink', adapted in the hopes that soft drinks would ultimately supplant the 'hard liquor' market. Although the idea never stuck, the term soft drink did."
Of course, as Chun See
pointed out, the Cantonese called soft drinks "hor lan shoi" (荷兰水) which means "Holland Water". I surmised that the term actually originated from a Hokkien who while entertaining a visiting guest, called out to someone in the house to "hor lan chui" which means "serve the guest water". Chun See had dismissed my story as plain nonsense. What do you think?
I end this post with an anonymous comment reproduced from Icemoon's blog
:"The signboard "Framroz's" sure brought back memories.During Christmas each year, for a number of years I recall, a family friend, would present us with two cases of Framroz aerated drinks. It was a delight to receive this gift, for such drinks were then considered a luxury.However, the drinks were only reserved for guests. We, children (then) could only hope that there were balance left in the bottles after the guests' glasses were filled.I recall that we served drinks to our guests in glasses, one glass per guest, and not filled to the brim, unlike the days of plentiful today. Nowadays, we say "Help yourself to whatever you want ... don't be shy." Imagine the amount of wastage! We have indeed come a long way..."Further Reading
1. Infopedia link on Parsi Association in Singapore
2. Parsi Zoroastrian Association of Singapore
3. Heritage Tour: Singapore's Parsi Community
4. "The famous brand then was Framroz, and hence there was no Pepsi for Chinese New Year
5. Drugs for sale in Cecil StreetUpdate on 19 Oct 2009
Thanks to Andy Young for the following comment:"There was a large Framroz advertisement on the outer wall of a shophouse along the Geylang Road and Lorong 24 junction across from the Geylang Road Post Office. It could have been one of the factories. Always see lots of crates and bottles on the five-foot ways. It was in the 60s."
Andy was referring to Eastern Aerated Water Co. Ltd. (东方汽水有限公司) i.e. the building in the following photos:
Eastern Aerated Water on 23 Sep 2006
Eastern Aerated Water on 22 Aug 2009
Thanks also to Chun See who sent me a scanned image of the Framroz bottle as well as of a Eastern Cola bottle. He had obtained the image from a book published by the National Heritage Board some years ago. And you know what? According to the image, Eastern Cola was bottled by Eastern Aerated Water - the company whose building appears in the last 2 photos!
We also know what the taglines for the 2 drinks were:Framroz - "Famous since 1904
but don't know till when"Eastern Cola - "The taste tells but don't know who"