Momofuku Ando, the Incredible Inventor of Instant Noodles

14.08.2018

©NISSIN FOODS HOLDINGS CO., LTD.

‘In life, it’s never too late’. It’s a slightly obsolete motto, but one which speaks to everyone. But for Momofuku Ando, the phrase is rich with meaning, because it took him forty-eight years to invent instant noodles. Today, he’s nicknamed ‘Mr Noodle’ and his once small company has grown significantly to become a multinational which generated a net revenue of four-hundred-ninety million JPY (almost four million EUR) in 2017. But this inventor’s life wasn’t always such a success.

Let’s go back in time a little. At twenty-two, he started his own business selling jumpers. After the Second World War, he threw himself into a new venture and began building rudimentary housing. He then had two stints in prison, one for dealing in black market goods and the other for tax evasion. But this didn’t stop him, and in 1948, he started a new business in Ikeda, Osaka. This later turned into the multinational Nissin Foods. At first, it was only a small family business which produced salt.

©NISSIN FOODS HOLDINGS CO., LTD.

In 1957, he lost everything overnight except for a rental property located in Ikeda. This was a difficult period, and the food crisis which affected the whole country led him to invent a system for producing ramen that was easy to prepare, eat and store. He used the method of ‘instant dehydration using hot oil’ and thus created the first instant noodle recipe, for ‘chicken ramen’.

At sixty-one, he created the ‘cup noodles’ that we still find today, comprised of instant noodles packaged in a goblet-shaped container. Before long, the product was being exported all over the world, having been popularised by Japanese soldiers. The story could have ended there, but no. At ninety-one, Ando decided to invent ‘space noodles’ (that is, noodles that could be eaten by astronauts in space), and these were launched in 2005. Which goes to prove that, in life, it really is never too late.

©NISSIN FOODS HOLDINGS CO., LTD.