Sunday, June 21, 2009


Momofuku Ando.

You may not know his name, but chances are you've enjoyed the fruits of his trial and error. Mr. Ando is none other than the father of instant noodles.

Born in Taiwan in 1910, Ando later moved to Japan and became a naturalized citizen. In 1958, after months of tinkering and experimentation, he finally perfected a method for flash frying a block of raw noodles. These noodles could then be submerged in boiling water, and, within minutes, transform into a tasty meal.

He added some chicken seasonings and placed them in an orange plastic bag. With that, the world's first instant noodle - Chikin (Chicken) Ramen - was born. Ando died in 2007 at the ripe old age of 96. He claimed the secret to his longevity was eating a pack of Chikin Ramen everyday.

In memory of the man who fed generations, the city of Ikeda (Osaka Prefecture) opened the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum. This mecca for noodle heads contains a recreation of Ando's work shack, a noodle theater, and several hands-on attractions.

The most popular attraction lets visitors create a personalized Cup Noodle (you can see pictures of mine below). In addition, with the proper reservations, patrons can also try their hand at cutting and flash frying raw noodles, just like the boss did back in 1958.

So, the next time you're at a loss for what to eat in your workplace or dorm, and you find yourself reaching for that familiar Styrofoam cup, take a moment and give a special nod of thanks to Mr. Ando.

For without him, none of this would have been possible!


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