Crispy business- Pune's famous 'Budhani Wafers' shares its story

The company is an iconic name when it comes to chips made in the city.

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Long before international brands inundated our food shelves with fancy chips and wafers, this quaint little shop was fulfilling to our snack-time cravings.

But even with the stiff competition it faces on that front today, Budhani Wafers does manage a top-of-the-mind recall for most Puneites.

However, this iconic name in the potato chips market had a humble beginnings. Three brothers, Madhavji, Motilal and Mangaldas Budhani arrived in Pune with little money in 1947 from Bhuj in Gujarat. Their funds were enough just to buy them a potato peeler, a hand slicer, edible oil, a frying pan and stove, and they started their business from a 10X10 ft home.

In 1964, after their business started doing well, the Budhani brothers started operating from a small window in the exact same location in Camp where the main outlet now exists.

This was the time when they obtained a charcoal bhatti, a batch peeler and a batch slicer to increase their production. The ladies in the family were especially helpful often frying chips when the men were away, as the charcoal bhatti could not be turned off.

The Budhani wafers now started selling their potato chips under the brand name Budhani Brothers Royal Crisp Delight, and this was the beginning of brand Budhani Wafers, which were supplied to various sweetmeat shops, along with chivda and salted and masala peanuts and cashew nuts.

The first full-fledged Budhani Wafers outlet was opened in 1972. The business had now grown to enable the purchase of diesel bhattis and more machinery that allowed higher production capacities and more varieties of chips.

In 1983, Arvind, the second generation Budhani, went abroad and, upon witnessing the technological advancement there, procured the latest machinery.

Arvind says in 1988, the Budhanis developed India’s first stainless steel, soundproof, heat-proof, pollution free-potato chips fryer. Arvind also developed a computer system in 1989 that could easily be operated.

Arvind recounts, “A visitor from Microsoft New York loved our chips, and came to see our manufacturing unit in the 1990s. He was amazed by our computerised billing system.” 

As the business grew, the brothers continued bringing in technological upgradations and in 1995 purchased automatic packaging systems, a centrifugal slicer and a centrifugal dryer.

The reason for their growth, according to Arvind, has been excellent quality and service. “Using the best quality raw material and reasonable prices has been responsible for the propagation of our business, along with the goodwill of people and the blessings of our Guru Maharaj. These days, customers are health conscious, hence we make sure to use less oil and maintain hygiene.”

Talking about competition from various potato chip makers, Arvind says any good businessman will highly appreciate and welcome good competition, as it keeps him on his toes.  He stresses, “It is said, ‘Behind every successful man there is a woman.’ This is especially true in our family.”

Budhani Wafers is currently run by Arvind, Dilip, Suresh, Kishore and Paresh Budhani who hope to see their business grow from strength to strength.

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