Instant noodles were first created by Momofuku Ando, who was born in southwestern Taiwan when the island was under Japanese colonial rule,in Japan on August 25, 1958, under the brand name Chikin Ramen (チキンラーメン). Momofuku developed the production methodology of flash frying the noodles after they had been made, creating “instant” noodles. This step dried the noodles and gave them a longer shelf life. Chikin Ramen itself was distinctly different from modern instant noodles in that each block of noodles was pre-seasoned and sold for 35 Yen. Initially, due to its price and novelty, Chikin Ramen was considered a luxury item,as Japanese grocery stores typically sold fresh noodles for one-sixth their price. Despite this, instant noodles eventually gained immense popularity, especially after being promoted by Mitsubishi Corporation.
In 1971, Nissin introduced the Cup Noodles, instant noodles in a waterproof polystyrene cup, to which boiling water could be added to cook the noodles. A further innovation added dried vegetables to the cup, creating a complete instant soup dish.
According to a Japanese poll in the year 2000, “the Japanese believe their best invention of the 20th century was instant noodles.” As of 2010, approximately 95 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten worldwide every year. China consumes 42 billion packages of instant noodles per year – 44% of world consumption – Indonesia, 14 billion; Japan, 5.3 billion, Viet Nam 4.8 billion, USA 4 billion. Per capita, South Koreans consume the greatest amount of instant noodles, 69 per capita per year.
Instant noodles are not only popular with college students, they can also be an economic indicator. In 2005, the Mama Noodles Index was launched to reflect the sales of Mama Noodles, the biggest instant noodle manufacturer in Thailand.The index was steady following recovery from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, but sales increased about 15% on a year-to-year basis in the first seven months of 2005, which was regarded as a sign of an inferior good, one whose consumption increases as incomes fall. The theory was that the increase in sales of instant noodles, which are usually cheap, occurred because people could not afford more expensive foods.
Nissin Foods is a world-wide company that makes instant ramen noodles. It was established in Japan on September 4, 1948 by Momofuku Ando as Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. of Japan (日清食品株式会社 Nisshin Shokuhin Kabushiki-gaisha?) and ten years later introduced the first instant ramen noodle product, Chikin Ramen (Chicken Ramen). They established a US subsidiary Nissin Foods in 1970 and sold instant ramen noodle products under the name Top Ramen. Instant noodles (1958) and cup noodles (1971) were both invented by Momofuku Ando. Nissin Foods has its headquarters in Yodogawa-ku, Osaka. The company moved to its current headquarters in 1977, when the construction of the building was completed.
Nissin Foods has established offices and factories in various countries, such as Brazil (since 1981), Hong Kong (since 1985), India (since 1992), Germany (since 1993), Thailand (since 1994), China (since 1995) and Mexico (since 2000). Their products are also sold in Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, Sweden, Malaysia and Australia.
Nissin founder, Momofuku Ando, has always instilled a sense of commitment and quality in Nissin products. Today, Nissin’s corporate philosophy inspires this same commitment to taste, convenience, and quality. Mr. Ando began the company as part of a humble family operation back in 1948. Faced with sparse food sources after World War II, Mr. Ando realized that a quality, convenient ramen product would help to feed the masses. His goal was to create a satisfying ramen that could be eaten anywhere, anytime. In 1958, Nissin introduced “Chicken Ramen”, the first instant ramen. Ironically, it was considered a luxury item, since Japanese grocery stores sold fresh Japanese noodles (udon) at one-sixth the cost of Mr. Ando’s new food concept.
Still, Mr. Ando was convinced that his revolutionary new method of preparation would sell. The concept seemed simple enough. All users would have to do is simply remove the ramen from its package, place it in a bowl, add boiling water, cover the bowl, and wait three minutes. The conservative Japanese food industry, however, rejected the product as a novelty with no future. They had never been so wrong.
Soon, Chicken Ramen was selling beyond even Mr. Ando’s wildest expectations. Before you could say “instant”, more than ten companies were rushing to put their own versions out on the market. By the end of 1958, grocery shelves were crowded with this new staple for the Japanese kitchen. From this point on, Nissin Foods began introduction of a long list of successful and innovative ramen products. Today, Nissin has 21,900 employees, enjoys net sales of over $3.2 billion per year, operates 29 plants in 11 countries, and its products are sold worldwide. nissinfoods.co.jp