Celebrating 50 years of feeding Otaku

Today is the 50th anniversary of the day instant ramen went on sale in Japan – August 25th, 1958. You may remember January of 2007 when the creator of this delicious treat, Momofuku Ando, passed away and was given a huge send-off – Yasuhiro Nakasone, former Prime Minister of Japan, even delivered the eulogy at his funeral!

This meal, sometimes the only nutrition we can manage in between bouts of anime marathons at our computer desks, is easy to take for granted; it’s easy, cheap, and has always been around (sorry to our 50+ year old readers). So, I decided to do a bit of research on this subject, and thought you might be interested in what I found out!


"Ramen art."

I pulled this brief history from the Ramen History page at the Insant Ramen Homepage:

The Japanese have always loved to eat noodles and invented many unique varieties of their own, such as soba (thin, buckwheat noodles) and udon (thick wheat noodles). The history of instant noodles begins in the years after the Second World War: a time of intense food shortages in Japan. Inexpensive and full of needed calories, ramen (thin Chinese-style vermicelli noodles served in soup) became widely popular and long lines of hungry diners outside noodle shops and street food stands were a common sight. Obviously, what was needed was a tasty, safe and non-perishable type of ramen that could easily be cooked at home.

Enter Chicken Ramen, a brand of flavored instant noodles sold under the slogan "Just add hot water and wait 2 minutes." The Japanese in the late fifties were so impressed by the new food that they nicknamed it "miracle ramen". Before Chicken Ramen, this type of noodle had been called Chinese soba, but the runaway success of this brand made ramen into a household word.


The first ramen ever marketed: Chikin Ramen.

I also found that in a year 2000 poll, Japanese people voted instant ramen as the best invention of the 20th century! (it was followed in second by the kareoke machine :P ) Perhaps most surprisingly, I learned that its original price point was 6 to 7 times that of regular soba or udon, making it very much a luxury good in post-WW2 Japan.

After the death of creator Momofuku Ando, a museum was created in Osaka that shows how he developed the noodles, and how they have changed over the years. Momofuku, an immigrant from Taiwan, got off to a false start when he was imprisoned in 1948 for tax evasion, but he never let that stop him. He continued trying for his vision and finally achieved success at an age when most people are fully established in their fields, prompting him to later quote "I invented instant ramen when I was 48 and Cup Noodles at 61. In life, there is no such thing as too late."


"Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat."

So, whether you deck your ramen out to the max with veggies, meat, and whatever else, eat it simply with the flavor pack, or are somewhere in the middle like me (I usually just poach an egg in it), take a brief moment today to reflect on this amazing invention and celebrate its 50 years in existence!


Momofuku enjoying some of his creation.

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21 Comments

  1. Posted August 25, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Instant Ramen feeding poor ass college students for over 50 years. I mostly eat mine straight with out meat or veggies as a quick meal during hectic days. I still can’t believe that I can score a pack a 0.20 USD. Cheapest lunch ever!

  2. indr0008
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    yup. a real life saver for us poor univ students

  3. phuzybuny
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    ^ amen.

  4. Posted August 25, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    A glorious thing that has come to our earth. I did not know today was the 50th anniversary. I think in celebration….I will go make some ramen ^^

  5. Posted August 25, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Instant ramen! Must eat. Nice to know today is the 50th anniversary.

  6. Posted August 25, 2008 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    *eats his curry*

    Uhh… don’t have any at home so I can’t celebrate it.

  7. 13sugars
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Heh, I just celebrated it last night myself, in shrimp flavor. ^^ It’s actually a good choice other than cereal when one wants to lose weight within five days. :D

  8. Ominae
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Been eating this ever since in kindergarden. My hats off to him!

  9. Posted August 25, 2008 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    The man is a genius.

  10. Mone
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    He should have a day named after him.

  11. Posted August 26, 2008 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    My future love handles praise him for their sustenance.

  12. SoSo/Karin lover
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    God bless your soul Mr Momofuku. Thanks to your creation, thousands of us financially poor students are able to enjoy a good, fast, meal cheaply. You may be gone, but your creation will never be forgotten.

    Hail Instant Ramen! For Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat.

  13. LDC
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Glorious and honorable.

  14. Posted August 26, 2008 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Instant noodles changed my life for the better. Thank you Momofuku-san.

  15. Analye
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    he should have a week named after him =D
    maybe an unofficial otaku holiday?

  16. Posted August 27, 2008 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    no comment on the food, my instant ramen tastes waver. I loved it when I got into anime because it’s what Naruto ate or whatever, however now I realize if you can afford not to eat it, you shouldn’t.

    More importantly, I love the image header. Okama is one of my favorite artists.

  17. EvilDevil
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    otakus and poor college students wouldnt be here today if it wasnt for him, the great otaku/college student famine had been prevented thanks to him…

  18. ANIMEKRAZY123
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    yay Momofuku-san Suki anta no ramnen!!!

  19. Cat Megex
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I know of only one downside to instant ramen: the high sodium content.

    Aside from that, it’s awesome. ^_^ (The high sodium content is the main reason I try not to eat too much of it.)

  20. Vashar
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    The sodium content isn’t too bad. 750mg (190 Kcal) when 2000-2500mg is recommended. Most Americans consume 9000mg a day. All this worry about sodium is because it’s known to increase blood pressure. Experts relate high blood pressure to risk of a heart attack. The logic that supports this is too simple and can be argued. A burger, excluding the regular hamburger, from McDonald’s has at least as much, ranging from 730-1500mg, with 300-740 calories. Ramen is more filling because of the soup base.

    I personally like Nissin Top Ramen, since it’s the only brand the local supermarket offers besides it’s own Winn Dixie/Thrifty Maid brand which tastes like crap. I actually buy my ramen from Family Dollar now, since they sell a 6 pack for $1 including tax.

  21. zanardi50
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m born in the same city (Chiayi, Taiwan) as this genius of a man!

    Momofuku-san, *dou – sha – li* (Thank you, in Taiwanese) !! :-)

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