Instant ramen is a bit of a punchline in the food world. A staple for college kids everywhere, it’s a food we don’t give much thought to aside, aside from knowing that it we’re ever down to our last dollar we’d still be able to eat. But this soup made with dried noodles actually has a pretty fascinating history.
By this point, most people know that real ramen is something that you find in noodle shops across Japan: steaming bowls of rich broth bursting with chewy, springy noodles and additions like sliced roast pork, onions, seaweed, fish cakes, and maybe a soft-boiled egg. The possibilities are limitless, and there are few more satisfying meals out there. However, that’s a ramen for another day. Today’s ramen is the convenience store variety, with dried noodles, a seasoning packet, and instructions on the back to pour in hot water and let it steep. We’ll call it “instant ramen.”
The inventor of instant ramen was a man named Momofuku Ando, the Taiwanese-Japanese founder of Nissin Foods — and, yes, David Chang named his iconic restaurant after him. He worked for years to perfect his method of drying out noodles, which gave them a longer shelf life than even frozen noodles. Sales took off, the biggest jump coming when Nissin began packaging them in a polystyrene container.
It’s impossible to discuss instant ramen without mentioning its nutritional value, or more specifically, its lack thereof. A recent New York Times article points to a study published in the August issue of The Journal of Nutrition and concludes that instant noodles have “ties to heart risk,” but there’s a bit more to the story than that. Read on for 10 things you should know about instant ramen.
It was Invented in 1958
Ando invented instant noodles way back in 1958, and while the packets of pre-seasoned dried noodles were immediately popular, they didn’t really take off (especially internationally) until 1971, when Nissin (the same company that invented them) introduced Cup Noodles, which just required the addition of boiling water.
The First Brand Name was Chikin Ramen
Sounds like chicken… and tastes like it too, more or less.