The Charitable Beginnings of Ramen

How ramen's creator Momofuku Ando made it big with an act of goodwill
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2011 6:04 PM CDT
Instant Ramen Noodles: Invented to Feed War Torn Japanese People
Mohammed Alsabahi stocks up on Ramen noodles at the recently opened Wal-Mart in Dearborn, Mich., Thursday, March 6, 2008.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(Newser) – Normally when someone invents a revolutionary product that goes on to earn $3 billion annually, it’s for financial gain, fame, and success—not necessarily to feed a poor, hungry nation. That’s where Momofuku Ando, the creator of instant ramen, was different: Walking through his war-torn hometown of Osaka in 1945, he saw a long line of hungry survivors waiting for bowls of hot noodles, as Gizmodo reports. Ando tasked himself with inventing nonperishable, cheap noodles that would cook quickly.

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It took years, but one day Ando threw his noodles into hot tempura oil, and the dehydrated noodle was born. Instant ramen would go on to become a staple for Japanese families, and later Americans who got their noodles in a Styrofoam cup for added convenience. After taking over the world, and even going into space—as the vacuum-packed instant version of ramen—global ramen consumption averages 14 bowls per person annually. (Read more ramen noodles stories.)

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