Singaporeans Reminisce About Old Street Hawkers Selling Fresh Bread & Rojak
Singapore has undergone significant changes over the past few decades. One thing sorely missed by several local netizens were the street hawkers of the 90s and prior, selling bread and other forms of street food.
The hawkers, usually uncles on modified bikes, set up mobile shops from place to place.
They sold a variety of food, usually made with fresh ingredients.
Nostalgic Singaporeans lamented the lack of such street hawkers selling comfort food nowadays.
Singaporeans nostalgic for street bread hawkers
Earlier this month, a user posted an old photo to the ‘Heritage SG Memories‘ Facebook group.
Even though it’s unclear when the picture was taken, the modern parking sign in the background suggests it might have been taken not too long ago.
In the picture, a bearded man was seen packing bread from his makeshift workstation.
His ‘shop’ was merely a large metal box affixed to the back of a bicycle.
“This was the best,” the OP wrote, “even in the 90s there was Bhai (brother) in Hougang selling this.”
As for standouts, they said, “their kaya was nice, also their epok2 (Malay curry puff)”.
Other hawkers sold snacks and rojak
Commenters became nostalgic too, with one thinking back to the delicious curry buns sold by such hawkers.
Another commenter spoke of looking forward to seeing the ‘roti man’ every evening.
They would apparently purchase fruit cake slices, butter cake, and curry puffs from the street hawkers.
The roti men brought joy to Singaporeans and Malaysians in their modified bikes, with their rainbow assortment of bread and snacks hanging off their vehicles like a compact shop.
Another commenter told others about a “rojak uncle” in Serangoon, who unfortunately also retired some time ago.
The hawkers, now mostly gone, date back decades into Singapore’s history. Photographs showed street peddlers selling bread since at least the 1940s.
Health regulations are a major factor in decline
Though the reasons behind their disappearance are complex and multifaceted, a likely factor was increasing governmental regulations.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) regulates and punishes illegal street hawkers seriously. The process of obtaining a street hawker license is not easy too, as applicants must meet a slew of strict criteria.
Even the iconic Orchard Road ice cream hawkers need these licenses. Only 13 ice cream uncles held the license as of 2019, according to Channel NewsAsia (CNA).
As such, it’s entirely possible that one day, even they will be just a distant nostalgic memory for us.
One comment on the photo said that the public health policies pushed many street hawkers into actual hawker centres. They further lamented the inferior “charm and history” of such places.
The same commenter additionally dubbed the street hawkers the forerunner of home delivery services.
“Would be so cool to reintroduce more street vendors,” they remarked, “with [an] app notifying the neighbourhood that they are in their area.”
Do you have any memories of the old street hawkers? Share them with us in the comments below.
Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at email@example.com.
Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.