The World’s First Instant Noodles Was Actually A High-SES Product

Image: Evgeniy Kalinovskiy /

Everybody knows instant noodles, right?

They’re the saviour of poor students and broke adults, and most parents wouldn’t consider it a meal.

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At most, it’s just a snack.

And we all know how unhealthy it is. If not, take a look at this video we’ve done:

But did you know that back in days long gone, instant noodles were not just considered a meal, but a luxurious one?

Here’s what you need to know about glorious instant noodles and why it was created in the first place.

The Reason Why Instant Noodles Existed In The First Place

The year is 1945 and the world is reeling from a 6-year war that has just ended.

Image: Flickr

Food shortages were pretty commonplace, including Japan, one of the main perpetrators of the war.

During that period, the Japanese Ministry of Health encouraged their people to eat bread made from wheat.

The wheat was supplied by the United States to help Japan get back on its feet after the war.

Enter Momofuku Ando, the inventor of Maggie Mee


The story goes that Ando was walking in Osaka when he noticed people gathering around a ramen soup stall, waiting to eat.

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That was when he felt that Japanese people turned to ramen for comfort.

When he asked the Ministry why they did not encourage the Japanese people to eat noodles, the answer he got was that noodles supply companies were too small and unstable to fulfil the supply needed for the endeavour.

“Peace Will Come When There’s Enough Food To Eat”

Ando had wanted to help feed Japan’s population. And he wanted to do it by coming up with the perfect post-war food item. It has to be:

  • Tasty
  • Nonperishable
  • Ready in less than three minutes
  • Economical
  • Safe and health

And remembering the ramen scene after the war, he decided to work on a mass-produced noodle soup.

After a year of trying, he didn’t manage to get the taste right.

Until one day, he just threw some noodles into hot tempura oil his wife had heated up to make dinner and discovered the magical secret.

When you fry the noodles, they get dehydrated. Not only that, it’ll create tiny perforations that made the noodles cook faster.

And so born, the world’s first ramen: Chikin Ramen

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It Was High-SES To Eat Instant Noodles

Now, people know instant noodles as low-SES meals. But when it first came out, it was high-SES.

When it first started selling in stores, it cost slightly more than fresh soup at the local ramen store.

However, people were attracted to the idea of cooking their own ramen at home at their own convenience.

Instant noodles became a staple in Japan.

Image: Pinterest

And when Ando invented cup noodles in 1971, instant noodles mania took over the entire world.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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