Instant noodles or instant ramen is a dish that is eaten all around the world. The inventor is Momofuku Ando. This name sounds Japanese because he is Taiwanese Japanese.
Choice between Japanese or Taiwanese
He was born in Taiwan on 1910 when it was a part of the Japanese Empire. Ando was born Go Pek-Hok with his family having Hokkien roots. Having lost both his parents at a young age, he grew up with his grandpa at his textile store and later on used his father’s inheritance to start his own business.
After World War 2, Ando had to choose between taking a Republic of China citizen or Japanese citizenship. In the end he took the Republic of China citizenship. It wasn’t until he took his second wife that he took on Ando which follows his wife’s name. It was also through marriage that he was naturalized and became a Japanese citizen.
Invention of Instant Ramen/Instant Noodles
After World War 2, Ando saw the rations that were given out to the starving Japanese were filled with bread. He believed the people would be better off getting full on more traditional Japanese foods like noodles. Even though he had never develop food products before, he worked tirelessly to eventually invent the chicken ramen.
He got the inspiration while seeing his wife fry tempura and decided to use the same technique for noodles. After this invention, he changed his company’s name to Nissin Foods and focused on food production.
Marketing Instant Ramen to USA
While marketing his instant noodles to the rest of Asia wasn’t as hard, because cuisine and culture across Asia are quite similar, when he tried to enter the US market, he hit a snag. Americans did not have a habit of eating noodles, as their main carb intake was through potatoes and bread. In addition, Americans used plates to eat instead of bowls. To tackle this problem, Ando saw that instant coffee in styrofoam cups were on the rise so he decided to place his noodles in a styrofoam cup with all the noodles and flavor powder already in there. All you needed to add was hot water. Since he knew that Americans did not have a habit of boiling water, the instructions on these “cup noodles” would say to add cold water and put in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. The last thing he did was to shorten the noodles to make them easier to eat with forks.