The highlight of a typical school day at Pentecost preparatory was waiting for break time. Pupils gathered under ‘katapa’ (literally the white man’s nut) trees; with some eating their home-made food whilst others scale over walls to go buy some roadside food. The rest queued at the school canteen with our meal coupons. The usual “I am after you” can be heard amongst the juniors and the playground con men. This was freedom. The days of singing “KG2a inside” were well and truly over for I was in primary school.
I wouldn’t like to admit it but I was part of the coupon holders. This meant I could not indulge in luxuries such as po-low, nkati (peanut) cake, bread with margarine, meat pie, lollipops, biscuits, kube (coconut) toffee, rock buns, original hacks… It’s like my parents saw what was possible and thought “nah, let’s put him on a coupon”. This lavish lifestyle continued for the next 5 years.
In P6, I became coupon-less. I dealt in cash. I’d always liked meat pie, but despite my new-found riches, I still could not indulge in it. So the nearest thing to it was this meat pie-minus-meat thing which was solely put on earth for people like us. It was technically a biscuit, almost crisp like. I began buying them after realising how ridiculously cheap it was. I would spend my whole 1000 cedis on it.
That’s a whole lot of constipation. After all, this was just baked pastry. The general lack of nutrition made me give it the name ‘No-Nutrients’ and let’s be honest, there wasn’t much in it. Regardless, after drinking some water from the vulture reservoir (which was later deemed only suitable for scrubbing urinals), I was sorted for the day. Even Kenkey eaters were jealous. I told my story to Ebene who being as loaded as he was, took the consumption to whole new level, investing over 2000 cedis worth of the stuff.
By the time we got to JSS our now stomachs were feasting on up to 5000 cedis of the thing. Some epic collaboration between Des, me and Ebene produced almost 50 pieces of the chronic each, for five days a week. It almost became an addiction. Reggie later joined in the excitement, and being the lazy git he is, decided to rename it ’NN’.
In 2007, the Ghana cedi was re-dominated. 10,000 cedis became 1 cedi and 100 cedis became 1 pesewa. 1 piece of ‘No-Nutrients’ was priced at 50 cedis (now 5 pesewas).
The biscuit eating pandemonium had even extended across to the enemy: the B class, and subsequently throughout the whole school. Who could have thought the poison that was being served to us would have outsold the real food that was surrounding it and still get sales to this day! This is the story of how one man’s drive to enjoy a bit break time snacking led to the discovery of a food abomination so bad, starving folks would rather pass.
Back in 2011, I visited a friend who lived in the same neighbourhood as the school. As we were walking along the road, we overheard a boy mention “No-Nutrients” to his friend. So I asked him where he heard the name and his response was that ‘”that’s just what we call it”. He looked about 10 years old; too young to have been there at the time the name was coined. More importantly, not only were people still buying NN, but the name had also stood for over a decade. The funny thing is that he wouldn’t have believed me if I’d told him I came up with the name. I haven’t felt more proud.