Seven Must Haves in a Jamaican Home


Thirty years ago, there were certain items that were standard in Jamaican homes. This rose out of the limited brands available at that time. Today, Jamaicans have a range of products to choose from based on the flood of goods coming in from overseas. Still, there are ‘specialty items’ that have remained as staples. Let’s explore seven things that used to be must-haves in a Jamaican household.

Flash Light/Matches

Comet Matches

Tropical Storms and hurricanes are an unavoidable part of life in the Caribbean. With the hurricane season running from June to November, we are urged by public service announcements to keep a good supply of these items. They are extremely helpful when there is no electricity for the lights or the stove. (Photo Source: UWI)

Home Sweet Home Lamp

Even with the advent of electricity, every housewife owned one of these kerosene lamps for those times when the power went out. Even today, they can still be found in working order in homes across Jamaica.

 The tagline for this liquid topical re-energizer was, and still is, ‘The freshness of a breeze in a bottle’. This secret (even today) mentholated blend of ingredients carries a signature aroma that cannot be missed. Limacol can be used as an aftershave lotion, astringent or make up remover.

Mosquito Destroyer
Coleman Mosquito destroyer
Mosquitoes are the bane of many people’s existence, and as such the trademark green coils are a feature in many homes. These days, battery operated zappers do a good job of keeping off these pesky insects, but using a mosquito destroyer coil is unfortunately still a way of life in Jamaica. People with respiratory challenges do well to avoid being in any enclosed area where coils are lit.

Vicks Vaporub
This brand-name ointment which functions as a decongestant is used to rub the chest and back. Every Jamaican child has been subjected to this mentholated cough suppressant at some point during their childhood. It is also good for joint and muscular pain, which makes it a must have for Jamaican families.

And speaking of pain, Tiger Balm is one of those pain ointments that was hugely popular on the island, but not so much anymore.

Water Crackers
Jamaican water crackers
These handy ‘tough crackers’ were, and still are, a staple in many households. They can be had with tea to ‘buss di gas’ in the early morning, any canned food or steamed fish. Today, there are several other brands, but the original Excelsior Water Crackers still reign supreme on many shopping lists.

White Rum
Jamaican Wray & Nephew Rum
From acting as flu prevention to sousing away a fever, rum is used as a cure-all for a variety of ailments. Because of its use in food and drinks, at some point in their life every Jamaican child has been exposed to this undeniable part of the island’s culture.

About the author

Joy L. Campbell

J.L. Campbell is an award-winning, Jamaican author who writes romantic suspense, women's fiction, new and young adult novels. She has written sixteen books, seven novellas, and two short story collections. Campbell's mission is to write stories that entertain and educate readers. She is also a certified editor, and writes non-fiction. Visit her on the web at