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Gourmet

Instant ramen

More than 100 billion packages of instant ramen are consumed worldwide today. The food is said to have had its humble beginnings in Ikeda City, Osaka prefecture, in a small backyard shed behind the home of Nissin Foods’ founder Ando Momofuku. The company sold its first instant ramen, which was chicken-flavored, in 1958. The process of flavoring steamed noodles, and then drying them through the use of hot oil, made this a groundbreaking product.

Advertising itself as being ready to eat in two minutes after pouring hot water on top, the instant chicken-flavored noodles became known as “magic ramen”. Despite a 35-yen price tag, when typically udon sold for only six yen, the instant ramen sold well due to its reputation for being both delicious and convenient. And since this coincided with the rise of the nuclear family and "double salaries" where both husband and wife work, as well as the arrival of supermarkets to Japan, the noodles were sold in massive quantities via a Western-style system of distribution. Hoping to see his instant noodles go global, Ando Momofuku decided to try breaking through the barrier of food-related habits. Cobbling together various pieces of wisdom and innovative thinking, he came up with the concept of cup noodles, the first noodles in a cup combination in the world. First launched on the market in 1971, the product featured noodles inside a Styrofoam cup, along with freeze-dried ingredients—a completely new style of instant ramen. The containers served a triple function: as packages while lining store shelves, as cooking vessels after hot water had been poured inside, and as a serving dish while being eaten. As such, it was a manufactured food product that represented a never-before-seen concept.

The cup noodles spread to Asia, America, and even to Europe—thereby bringing an Osaka food onto the world stage. Safe as well as simple, hygienic as well as easy to preserve, the cheap and tasty instant ramen may rightly be described as a food-related revolution. Recent additions to the product lineup include personally-customized order-made cup noodles that are full of vegetables and purchasable at a shop called “Momofuku noodle” located in the Hankyu department store in Umeda, Osaka. It is receiving much attention as of late as customers can customize their noodles to their own taste be it with a rich soup or cute ingredients - making it a perfect souvenir to take home.

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