Since I was a child, blue band has never missed from my mum’s kitchen. Back then bread was not bread without the blue band spread. In those days sliced bread had not yet been discovered in Kenya and the bread was sold as an unsliced block popularly known as “boflo”. One would have to cut the bread into edible pieces and since the pieces when cut were not equal my siblings and I used to fight on who would get the bigger piece. Growing up blue band was used in almost all aspects of cooking from baking cakes, frying eggs, adding into the daily serving of porridge to make it more palatable, cooking rice, making those crunchy mandazis and I am told there are those who even used it to cook ugali.
When I transitioned to high school, I became a boarder and for sure the blue band spread better known as B.B was always top of my shopping list. As we all know the food served in our public schools is not the best in the world so one had to be creative in order to make it more palatable. Our school had a daily serving of githeri for lunch better known as “murram”. The meal consisted of beans, maize and a healthy serving of weevils floating on watery soup. The joke used to be that the weevils were meant to act as meat in order to supplement the diet. I have to confess that this was the most tasteless meal I had ever tasted and for the first few days I had to really struggle to eat it. Anyone who has ever attended a public boarding school will tell you that the first few weeks are the hardest for a boarder mostly due to the food. One usually avoided going to the dining hall as much as you can until such a time that you are left without any other option but to eat the damned food. Anyway the spread used to come in handy, a scoop of B.B and a royco cube used to have you munching away as if it was a chef prepared meal.
For those days when hunger pangs struck late in the evening, we used to make a mixture of sugar, drinking chocolate and blue band aka mkorogo to use a spread on a kaquarter. The mkorogo was so popular that blue band introduced a chocolate flavoured spread but it disappeared after a short while. Bread sold at the school canteen was the boflo type so one had to cut it into four quarters. The kaquarter used to be washed down with cold power that is basically cold water, sugar and drinking chocolate as we did not have access to hot water.
Fast forward to 2015 and I am now a father and just like in my mother’s kitchen, blue band has pride of place in mine. This time other than using the spread to make the food palatable, I look to it as a source of nutrition for my baby. You see statistics indicate that nutrition related illnesses affect more than 25 percent of children under 5, to counter this blue band comes fortified with essential vitamins that is A,B1,B2,B6,B12, D3 and E, now on top of that it will also contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats extracted from the Kenyan Rapeseed. Health experts refer to Omega 3 and 6 as essential fat acids due to the fact that the human body needs them for building healthy cells to maintaining brain and nerve function. As our bodies cannot produce these essential fats, we must get them from the foods we eat.
In order to ensure that my baby grows up to healthy and strong I ensure that blue band is a big part of his diet. It is used while cooking his porridge, frying the food and while mashing his food. Just like my mum trusted blue band while raising her children, I am also going to trust it while raising mine as I would like to think that I did not turn out badly at all.
Check out a vintage blue band ad and if you remember it mzee ni weweJ.