Jake: Good morning, everybody. Today, Daisy and I are going to talk about something that we both love – instant noodles! Where do they come from? Who invented them? Over to you, Daisy.
Daisy: Thank you, Jake. I know many of you are wondering what’s so interesting about instant noodles? Quite a lot, actually. Jake, could you please tell us more about the world’s most popular instant comfort food?
Jake: Last year, more than a hundred billion servings of instant noodles were eaten all around the world. That is equivalent to more than thirteen pots for every person on the planet!
Daisy: Do you know the yummy pot of instant noodles was first invented in Japan? And they’ve been voted repeatedly as Japan’s most successful invention, ahead of high-speed trains, laptops and karaoke.
Jake: Today, Japan is the third-biggest consumer of instant noodles, behind China and Indonesia, with more than five-and-a-half billion servings being eaten every year. Daisy, when did instant noodles make their first appearance in Japan? Were they an instant success?
Daisy: It is believed the first noodles can be traced back to Chinese chefs who brought them over in the eighteen eighties. Japanese ramen is basically wheat noodles served in a soup with a slice of meat on top. At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, ramen was eaten by everyone at every level of society in Japan.
Jake: The original ramen was eaten by Japanese labourers. The Second World War changed everything. At the end of the war in 1945, there was hardly any food available in Japan and the people were starving. The American army brought in wheat flour to feed the population. This flour was made into ramen noodles, and every day, there were long queues of people lining up at food kitchens for bowls of ramen noodle soup.
Daisy: The memory of long food lines gave Momofuku Ando, an entrepreneur, a brilliant idea. A failed businessman, Ando was determined to get back on his feet and came up with a business idea: he remembered the long queues of people waiting in line for a piping hot bowl of ramen noodle soup, and decided to invent a modern, instant version of ramen.
Jake: Ando took more than a year to develop his new product and when he perfected the recipe, process and packaging of his instant ramen noodles, he set up a small company to manufacture them. And the rest is food history.
Daisy: In Japan, there are three museums dedicated to the story of instant noodles. The biggest one is in the city of Yokohama. You can even buy noodles from famous Michelin-starred ramen shops there!
Jake: Wow! I would love to visit that museum! All right, we’ve come to the end of today’s podcast. Tune in next week to find out more about another famous comfort food.
Daisy: Thank you for joining us and bon appetit!