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Instant Ramen

Invention and Popularization

Chikin Ramen The world's first instant ramen. (Nissin Food Products Co.)

In 1958 the first instant ramen in the world went on sale in Japan: Nissin Food Products Co.'s Chicken Ramen. This product consisted of noodles that had been seasoned, fried, and then dehydrated. Because it could be eaten just by steeping the contents in hot water for three minutes, Chicken Ramen was called "magic noodles" and quickly became a hit.

Momofuku Ando, the founder of food manufacturer Nissin (originally called Chukososha Co.), began developing instant ramen in the early years following World War II. He got the idea of making tasty, affordable, and preservable ramen after seeing long lines of people waiting to eat at noodle stands.

Ando Ando with cup-shaped noodles ready to be fried. (Nissin Food Products Co.)

In the 1970 ramen packaged in styrofoam cups joined the ranks of instant ramen products already on the market. Until then, styrofoam had been associated mainly with boxes for storing and transporting fish. Thanks to the development of techniques for processing styrofoam into thin sheets, though, it became possible to sell instant ramen in cups made of styrofoam.

Ando came up with the idea of cup-type noodles while in the United States. He was visiting the country in the hope of taking his instant ramen business overseas, when he saw an American buyer eat Chicken Ramen out of a cup (using a fork instead of chopsticks), having first broken the chunk of noodles into pieces before adding hot water. Drawing inspiration from this, Ando's company developed the first cup-type noodles, which became explosively popular both in Japan and overseas because of their easy preparation.