During early 2000, Madlsa Shastri, a middle-aged woman from Bangalore, was well known for her home-made candies. But no one knew that she got the recipes to make such delicious candies from a Royal family of Thailand, as a gesture of goodwill when she used to be a temporary resident there.

When Madlsa turned towards spiritualism, she passed on the pandora’s box of recipes to her family friend Sandeep Jakhar, an aspiring entrepreneur from Punjab and advised him to develop a cottage industry out of it.

Sandeep and his elder brother Ajay Veer Jakhar took this opportunity to the next level and in 2003, started their venture at Maujgarh, a village with a population of about 2,500 in Ferozepur district in Punjab.

Their brand “Mili Candy” became the first registered business from the village, consisting of a workforce of 99% rural women, generating the largest number of employment at Maujgarh village.

The Jakhar brothers eyed the airline industry to promote their product for two key reasons. Tamarind is known to be an important source of vitamin C, good for digestion, and reduces airsickness. Secondly, back then, only mint and sundried candies were being served on flights.

They contacted Jet Airways as their pivotal client, but Jet was a bit reluctant with the idea to begin with. However, after several quality and hygiene checks, they took a risk and ordered an initial 200 kgs to check the pulse of their customer base.

Since then, there was no looking back for the Jakhar brothers. The orders kept increasing exponentially in the following months. Paramount Airways soon followed the footsteps of Jet and became the second airline company to serve Mili candy to on-board passengers.

One such passenger, a Canadian resident, had tasted the Mili candy on a Jet Airways flight and immediately fell in love with it. He contacted Sandeep through their website and persuaded him to export their product to Canada.

Mili candy is now a million-dollar industry, stealing hearts all over India, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and France. It’s being sold under the same brand name in all places except for France, where it’s known as “Bon-Bon”.

Despite both Jet and Paramount Airways going out of business, Mili still found its way to fill our hearts with its signature taste. Retail giants like Aditya Birla, Bharti Walmart, Hyper City and Tesco, all introduced Mili to their retail stores.

With Jet Airways slowly coming back to life, will they also serve the complimentary “original airline candy”, on board? A relishing thought. Let’s wait and watch!