In January 2007, an elderly Japanese man named Momofuku Ando, whom very few knew by name during his lifetime, died. But he owns one of the main world inventions of the 20th century, which has left behind both karaoke and a portable audio player in importance. Momofuku Ando invented instant noodles or instant noodles.
Momofuku Ando was born in 1910 in Japanese-occupied Taiwan. His parents died when he was a child and were raised by his grandparents who owned a clothing company.
At the age of 22, the guy started his own business and moved to Osaka. Things were going well, but after the end of World War II there was a recession and his company went bankrupt. Ando himself was imprisoned for tax evasion.
Paying off all the debts left Mr. Momofuku almost destitute. Living in lines for food in a devastated, hungry Japan, Ando unexpectedly came across an idea that later changed not only his life but also the fate of the whole world. He decided to spend the remaining funds on the invention of a new product that would not only bring profit, but also be useful to his fellow citizens.
Making instant noodles was not easy. Indeed, from the very beginning, Ando abandoned the idea of producing simply dry noodles: the Chinese invented a method of making noodles that could be stored for a very long time a thousand years ago. Ando's goal was much more ambitious. His noodles had to be not only cheap, but also tasty and quick to prepare. I had to tinker with this. For his experiments, Ando built a real kitchen laboratory in a barn behind his house in the town of Ikeda.
The equipment was the simplest. Traditional egg noodle maker and large pot. At first it seemed that the problem posed by Ando was insoluble. The noodles either turned out to be completely tasteless, or they were boiled so that they turned into porridge.
The breakthrough came when Ando came up with the idea of sprinkling the noodles with broth from an ordinary garden watering can. Then he stirred the noodles himself so that its top layer was soaked in the broth, fried it in palm oil, evaporating the water, and then dried it in the form of briquettes. To prepare the noodles, you just had to add boiling water to it. To each briquette of noodles, Ando came up with two bags: one, opaque, contained spices and broth extract, and the other, transparent, a small portion of palm oil. At first, the new dish was expensive and was considered a delicacy, but after a year, prices fell and sales began to grow rapidly.
In 1958, Ando's first Nissin Food Products hit stores and became a true bestseller. And not only among the Japanese. Ando, who often said that "there will be peace in the whole world if people do not lack food, " did not intend to limit himself to the Japanese market. That is why, at first, his instant noodles were only produced in chicken flavors under the Chikin Ramen brand. There was a reason for that. "Using chicken broth in our noodles, we managed to get around religious taboos in different countries. Hindus cannot eat beef, and Muslims cannot eat pork, but there is not a single culture, religion or country that prohibits eating chicken, " the Japanese explained. ...
After 12 years, Nissin Food noodles were known throughout Asia, as well as in Europe and America. However, Ando was not going to stop there.
In 1971, he came up with what made his noodles perhaps the most popular food on the planet. Ando's new Cup Noodle appeared on store shelves, sold in a waterproof styrofoam bowl. Hot water could be added directly to it. There was no more need to shift noodles, wash dishes after eating. Ando's noodles became truly economical, which was appreciated by students, bachelors, workers who wanted to save time at lunch. And soon after that, dried vegetables began to be added to the noodles, which, boiled in boiling water, created the impression of a full-fledged soup. But the main, literally space breakthrough, this food innovator made in 2005. It was then that vacuum-packed instant noodles appeared, created specifically for astronauts, and Ando attributed his longevity to the daily use of noodles of his own invention.
Starting with the production of chicken noodles in plastic bags, Ando has grown into a real emperor of instant noodles. His company produces nearly two dozen types of noodles with a wide variety of flavors and ingredients. The factories of the Ando empire are located all over the world - from the USA and Peru to Germany and Hungary - and supply their products to almost 70 countries. According to a company representative, more than 100 million people around the world consume Nissin noodles every day.
Ando's invention has long been the property of all mankind. Of course, the world leader in the consumption of instant noodles is, as you might have guessed, China: the Chinese consume about 30 billion servings of this product a year. China is followed by Japan and Indonesia. With such a scale, the creation of the International Instant Noodle Association and the fact that the World Ramen Summit is held annually is not surprising. According to this summit, in 2004, Earthlings consumed 65.5 billion packs of instant noodles. And, as Ando intended, she continues to save people. Instant noodles were the staple food of those affected by the Asian tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in the United States. With the light hand of Ando, noodles are now produced by hundreds of companies in different countries of the world. It tastes differently (in Poland, for example, there are borscht-flavored noodles), but in all other respects it differs little from Ando's invention, since the manufacturers rather try to emphasize this similarity. When you open noodles from any company, you can be sure that you will find what Ando came up with: a briquette of noodles and two bags. Transparent - with butter and silvery - with broth and spices.
And in 2000, when answering the question about the main Japanese invention of the 20th century, the Japanese unambiguously put in the first place not supermodern computers or electronic devices, but a simple and nutritious dish familiar to almost every modern person.
Ando's noodles have their drawbacks. Nutritionists and doctors argue about how healthy this food is. Restaurateurs and fighters for good taste complain that, like other instant foods, noodles kill a person's ability to distinguish a gastronomic masterpiece from a cheap concoction. Nevertheless, few doubt that the main goal that Momofuku Ando set for himself has been fulfilled. "Instant noodles have secured Mr. Ando a worthy place in the pantheon of human progress. Teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for life. Give him instant noodles and you no longer need to teach him anything, " says New York journalist Lawrence Downs. There is no better epitaph for a bankrupt who has decided to save mankind from hunger.