It's insane how far instant ramen has come. Around the globe, there's 100 million servings of instant ramen EVERY YEAR. But it makes sense. Instant ramen is tasty, super convenient AND comes in all sorts of varieties.
Instant Ramen - How it All Started
Instant ramen was first invented in 1958 by Japanese-Taiwanese businessman and Noodle God, Momofuku Ando. But let's rewind a bit.
After World War 2 (post 1945), Japan was having difficulties feeding its population. Rice shortages around this time didn't help either. As such, the Americans donated a lot of wheat flour to Japan. This wheat flour wasn't used for bread production though. It was used for ramen noodles sold in food carts!
Amidst this ramen noodles backdrop, Ando was working on perfecting them in "instant" form. After endless experimenting, he got it right in 1958. The world's first instant ramen, a "chicken ramen", was born. This "packet" style brand is still sold to this day.
His chicken ramen was a blockbuster hit. People loved it. Why not? All you needed was a pot of boiling water and a bowl to eat from.
The Age of Cup Noodles
Ando and his company Nissin took it a step further in 1971. While traveling in the US, he was inspired to create the Cup Noodles brand that we know and love today.
This "cup" style instant ramen was a smash hit as well, especially outside of Japan. You didn't even need a separate bowl for your ramen - the cup took care of this!
Within the Cup Noodles brand, there's today plenty of flavors - from to cheese curry to Thai tom yam kung.
Premium Instant Ramen is Even Better
In modern times, instant ramen has reached even greater heights. Many "premium" style instant ramen come in properly shaped bowls. But the biggest difference is that they're that much closer to enjoying actual ramen at a ramen shop.
This means a deeply flavored soup, fresher noodles and unique toppings - whether a big slab of pork or crunchy onions. Nowadays, premium instant ramen includes regional styles...or famous Japan ramen shops and their signature soup.
In short, the world of instant ramen has come a long, long way. Just like it has since 1958, it will continue to evolve.