5 brands you thought were Malaysian but are not

There are a lot of household brands in Malaysia that is not of Malaysian origin.

A composite image of stacked Ayam Brand can and Milo packages, illustrating some of the brands that many thought are Malaysian.
Ayam Brand and Milo are a few of the brands that many mistake are Malaysian. (Photo: Getty Images)

Following our story on Malaysians highlighting brands that were better than internationally recognised ones, some of our readers questioned the omittance of certain household brands, such as Milo.

Spoiler alert, Milo is actually Australian. It was invented by an Australian and first introduced to the world in Sydney, and is produced by Swiss company, Nestlé.

Milo wasn't the only brand that was brought up by readers, though. Here are the other brands (based on your feedback) that many frequently mistake as Malaysian-made.

Bata: The Global Footwear Icon

Originating from the Czech Republic in 1894, Bata is one of the world's most renowned footwear brands.

This misconception of Bata being Malaysian likely stemmed from Bata's long history in Malaysia, dating back to 1935, when the first Bata store opened in Penang.

They provided affordable and comfortable footwear for all Malaysians, one example being the white school shoes that catered to students of all ages (that didn't really remain white for too long once the school year started).

It is highly likely that any Malaysian would have had an interaction or two with a piece of Bata footwear growing up, which contributes to the misconception that we have today.

Kopiko: Java's Coffee Treasure

Kopiko, the beloved coffee candy, is often mistakenly believed to be Malaysian, due to its popularity in the country and name ‘kopi’, which means coffee in English.

In reality, Kopiko hails from Indonesia, where it was first introduced in the 1980s. It is also named after a coffee bean of the same name, which can be found in Hawaii.

This coffee candy has become a staple for most Malaysians when they need a small pick-me-up, but have no time to make themselves a cup of steaming hot coffee.

The brand has successfully captured the hearts of Malaysians with its rich coffee flavour, making it a ubiquitous treat found in most local convenience stores.

Maggi: The Swiss-Malaysian Culinary Companion

Maggi instant noodles are a household name in Malaysia, commonly associated with local cuisine. It is one of the nation’s most sought after midnight snacks.

However, the brand has Swiss origins. Maggi, another subsidiary of Nestlé, first introduced its products in Malaysia in 1969. Its instant noodles have since become a versatile ingredient in Malaysian kitchens, creatively incorporated into countless dishes.

The two most famous Maggi dishes in Malaysia are likely the the Maggi Goreng, or fried Maggi noodles, and Maggi Soup, where shops essentially prepare the instant noodles for you with the addition of eggs and vegetables.

Ayam Brand: The Brand That Never Sold Chicken Until Recent Times

Ayam Brand, known for its canned tuna, sardines, foods and condiments, is another brand that Malaysians often mistake as local. Hilariously, they have never sold any chicken products despite its name until earlier this year, when they (finally) released canned pulled chicken in Singapore.

Many of its canned food, like the sardines, are usually cooked by Malaysians with a bit of chilli powder and curry leaves, making it an easy dish to serve if you are rushing for time.

The company was established by frenchman Alfred Clouet in Singapore in 1892. Initially named A Clouet & Co, its first dealings were with importing wine and perfumes for the Asian market.

But when that didn't work out, Clouet decided to pivot to canned sardines before the dawn of consumer refrigerators.

The company was then renamed to "Ayam" because citizens of then Malaya just referred to Clouet's company as the brand with a rooster, or the "Ayam" branded sardines.

The canned goods are mostly ready-to-eat, so anyone rushing for time could just pop open a can of sardine or mackerel to feast with rice or bread without cooking it.

F&N: A Refreshing Singaporean Heritage

F&N, or Fraser & Neave, is synonymous with beverages in Malaysia. Because of it's variety of flavours and colourful cans, F&N drinks are often seen on sale during festive seasons and at open houses.

With a history dating back to the late 19th century in Singapore, F&N was founded by John Fraser and David Neave, and was initially named The Singapore and Straits Aerated Water Company.

They soon changed the name to Fraser & Neave after 15 years.

F&N's products have been enjoyed in Malaysia for generations. From its sarsaparilla to orange flavoured drinks, there will definitely be at least one flavour that a Malaysian would have tasted growing up.

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