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The Story of NISSIN Cup Noodles

Meet the Father of Instant Noodles


Do fans of the humble instant noodles ever wonder who invented their favorite convenient snack? It’s Momofuku Ando (1910-2007), creator of the world’s first instant noodles, Chicken Ramen, in 1958. When he invented this extremely affordable instant food source to address the food shortage in Japan right after World War II (WWII), it was revolutionary, to say the least.


Momofuku Ando (1910-2007) is the inventor of instant noodles.


Ando’s company, Nissin Foods, continued his legacy by enhancing this amazing food, making it even more convenient by creating the iconic Cup Noodles in 1971. Sold in over 100 countries, CUP NOODLES celebrated its 50th anniversary on 18 September 2021. 


The birth of instant noodles


The instant noodle idea was created out of the need for an affordable and easy-to-cook sustenance to fuel the development of Japan after WWII. Ando developed the world’s first instant noodles in a little shed in his hometown of Ikeda in Osaka Prefecture.


One of the earliest iterations of instant noodles


Using the tools in his shed and through a process of trial and error, Ando successfully developed the entire production method of flash-frying the noodles, from noodle-making to steaming, seasoning, and dehydrating in oil heat. Not only were the instant noodles ready to eat in two minutes by adding boiling water, the dried noodle blocks–nicknamed “magic ramen”–had a long shelf life that exceeded that of frozen noodles.



Ando developed the noodles in a humble shed in his hometown Ikeda.

The invention of Cup Noodles

By 1971 Ando once again created an iconic food item, the Cup Noodles, ready to eat in just three minutes by cooking it in its own container. The inspiration for that creation came from his trip to the US in 1966 to investigate the possibility of expanding sales of Chicken Ramen overseas.



The iconic Cup Noodles revolutionized the food industry.



Ando was inspired by how local supermarket managers ate Chicken Ramen. First, they broke up the ramen noodle blocks, put them in a cup, and then poured in hot water before eating the noodles with a fork. It was then that Ando realized that making instant ramen into a global food product required another level of convenience. 
Launched on September 18,1971, Cup Noodles revolutionized the food industry. The Styrofoam cup combined three functions: a packaging material, a cooking container, and an eating vessel itself. This was made possible by suspending the flash-fried noodles halfway in the upright Styrofoam container so that hot water can circulate thoroughly from below to cook the noodles evenly.



Nissin’s Cup Noodles has more than 150 varieties of flavor today.



The creation of Cup Noodles was a culmination of innovative ideas that made Japanese instant ramen a global food.  Consumed by billions and with more than 150 varieties launched so far, including flavors unique to some countries–like Chili Crab in Singapore, Galinha Caipira in Brazil, and Mazedaar Masala in India–it spurred plenty of similar products in the market today. 
Ramen in space

Pursuing his long-held dream to invent a ramen that can be eaten in space, Ando started work on Space Ramen. A culmination of a variety of techniques for eating in weightless environments, Space Ramen is based on the hot oil instant drying method that Ando invented in 1958. With Space Ramen, Ando’s creative thinking transcended the bounds of Earth, creating food that people can eat even in space.



Space Ramen made it possible to consume noodles in weightless environments.



Explore the legacy of Momofuku Ando

With his tireless pursuit of all things innovative, Momofuku Ando embodied the spirit of Nissin as the Father of Instant Noodles. You can learn more about Ando himself, and trace the history of the first Chicken Ramen and the innovations behind Cup Noodles at the CupNoodles Museum. There is one in Yokohama, and another in Ikeda, Osaka, where Ando established his first workshop. Both museums observe measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.



Learn more about the history of instant noodles at the CupNoodles Museum, Yokohama.




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