5 things you never knew about instant ramen

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Without a doubt, ramen is a worldwide phenomenon. You can find ramen at almost every major grocery store in the U.S., and it’s the same in many countries throughout the world. From the typical ramen noodles consumed by busy college students to the $16 gourmet bowls of celebrity chef David Chang, ramen has grown from a simple dish to an entire culture. Here are some surprising facts that, despite your experiences with instant ramen, you probably didn’t know.

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1. Although instant ramen is a Japanese invention, it originated in China.

Ramen is now globally often recognized as a Japanese dish, but the word “ramen” actually comes from the Japanese pronunciation of Chinese “lamian,” often called “lo mein.” This distinctly Chinese noodle soup first arrived in Japan through tradesmen in the 19th century. It wasn’t until much later, however, that the instant ramen we all know was invented by Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin and Top Ramen, in 1958.

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2. Ramen was considered to be a luxury food when it was first released to the public.

When Ando put out the first batch of original Chicken Flavor Ramen in 1958, a packet cost around 35 yen. This price was about six times that of fresh udon and soba noodles, making it a luxury item for most consumers. But in 1971, a breakthrough in technology created the wildly popular Cup Noodle, and prices have been slowly falling since then.

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3. On average, a packet of ramen contains 51 meters of noodles. 

If you were to take a packet of ramen and stretch out all of the noodles into one line, the approximate length would be 51 meters. This makes one packet of ramen longer than two tennis courts and an Olympic-size swimming pool!

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4. The Japanese consider ramen to be their best invention.

In a 2000 survey by the Fuji Research Institute, the Japanese proudly voted instant ramen as their greatest creation of the 20th century. Ironically, when it first came out, many Japanese believed it had no future in the food industry. As we all know, however, this prediction could not have been more wrong — Japanese people apparently now see it as their best invention, and it has grown from a national food to a global one.

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5. Eating ramen every meal for a year would cost about only $140.

Although it began as a luxury food, instant ramen has taken quite a turn since then. With the average packet costing a consumer only 13 cents, you could eat three square meals a day for an entire year for just $142.65. To put that into perspective, an average American spends $6,372 a year on food — eating ramen would reduce that to about 3 percent of the average cost. Due to its affordability, ramen is often called “gakusei ryori,” or “student food,” in Japan, and start-ups earning just enough for the founders to survive are known to be “ramen profitable.” 

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Contact Jenny Yoon at [email protected].

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  • DO-NOT-MESS_with_USa

    A few of you below are wrong about eating the same foods for a month is unhealthy. Tho our systems do need various foods in the long run so DO NOT banter on that point. I did this as an experiment and it worked for what I needed.
    .
    Twice in my life I subsisted on one meal every other day. This was by choice for I wanted to lose weight while riding my bike around the USA. The first week was difficult, the hunger pangs were rough but I succeeded in overcoming temptation.
    .
    First round I ate only McD’s for one month, it consisted of Meal #1. Quarter P. burger, fries and drink, tho I substituted that drink for a shake, obvious reasons.
    Oddly, I gained 3 pounds in 2 days but from then on I lost an average of 1 pound a day. Total weight loss in one month, 30. I felt normal, I was energetic from less weight and I was never sick.
    Few years later I did this again but this time I ate 1 Hot Dog w-all fixings (no hot peppers, obviously), fries and a shake every other day. I achieved the same results, 30 pounds lost in 30 days.
    .
    This was back in the 1970’s when Fast Food was a little more nourishing and contained less fillers.
    Out of curiosity I might try this with Ramen Soup with one whole potato (cooked in aluminum foil near the exhaust) and a shake from somewhere. Tho the shake would have either fresh Raspberry or Blackberry OR BOTH.
    .
    IF you’re going to try this at home and your hunger pangs is winning, eat 2 slices of dry toast with 1/4 glass of milk. This will cut the pangs but also, and more importantly, absorb stomach acids.
    .. .. .. ENJOY!

  • wez

    Japanese have the longest life expectancy too

  • Joe Daney

    I think one a day you can live with for a while. Add veggies and or meat and you’re not doing too bad. I pick up a wing or two that are under a dollar with chicken and it’s actually pretty awesome. Remember nutritional info is x2 if you eat the entire package. I will sometime split and add cayan pepper or ground red pepper. You can stretch it out…

  • Morgan

    Imagine all the sodium your putting into your body with one packet alone is a crap ton in sodium, imagine three in a day let alone three everyday for a year? So much!!!

    • DO-NOT-MESS_with_USa

      So limit yourself to 2 packages of Ramen Soup a day. That’s 1750 mgs of sodium. That’s within the daily max limit of 2300 mgs.
      Let’s put it this way. ALL foods are good for you and ALL foods are bad for you. It’s ALL about your amount of intake.
      Even too much water intake WILL KILL YOU!
      BTW: “Negative Banter is NOT education, it’s called ignorance.”

  • Vivian Li

    Yes, in the short run eating only instant ramen for every meal for several months may save you money, but in the long run, you’ll be paying ten times the cost eventually — with your health.

    • Autumn Christine Camile Bartsc

      Yes. You’d eventually need to get creative, adding veggies and meat here and there…

    • Stephen Weng

      I agree. If you’ve ever seen the documentary “Supersize Me”, you’ll understand that eating this kind of food everyday is pretty bad. He only ate McDonalds every meal for only a month and he still got sick enough to warrant a hospital visit. In the end, he recovered fairly quickly, but he proved his point that you can’t just eat something like cup ramen for too long. If you’re really a budget nut about everything, you still need to splurge sometimes. Adding veggies and other healthy stuff would balance it out.