Hawker food in the 60s and 70s probably tasted better because some people had only the hawker trade to depend on as a livelihood in Singapore back then (Much has unfortunately been lost from the old hawker scene, April 3).
Another reason could be that most of the ingredients used were tediously made by the hawkers. For example, they made their radish cake from scratch before they fried it.
Having said that, hawker food or street food in those early days had a reputation for being unhygienic.
The hawkers had no direct access to water or proper sanitation, and the top of the cart was not well-covered.
Street hawkers used the same pails of water over and over again to rinse their dirty bowls, utensils and crockery because they did not want to waste the little water they had stored in plastic drums which might have to last for days.
There is nothing to be joyful about hawkers carrying baskets or on bicycles, tricycles and motorcycles and handling food and money with dirty hands due to the lack of running water.
There were also no regulations on how the food was prepared, either at home or on the floor next to the cart, and no fridges to keep the food safe and fresh.
I believe the food at most hawker centres today fares as well as or even better than that of yesteryear and it is prepared with proper hygiene practices.
Priscilla Poh Beng Hoon (Ms)