Instant noodles are dried precooked noodles fused with oil, usually eaten after being cooked or soaked in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. A flavor packet is almost always included with a packet of instant noodles. The product may also be consumed raw from the packet, as the noodles are already cooked, usually by frying.
Taiwan, according to statistics from the International Ramen Manufacturers Association, is the world's 12th largest instant noodle market, worth an annual NT$10 billion (US$300 million). This translates into an annual total of 900 million packs, or 40 per person.
This is where the instant noodle inventer Momofuku Ando (安藤百福) was from. The most popuplar flavors in Taiwan are the beef noodle soup and minced pork noodle.
- Uni-President (aka President or Tong-Yi, 統一) takes the largest market share of instant noodles in the country, and is a major player in the global instant noodle market.
Ramen and similar products are often criticized as being unhealthy or junk food. A single serving of instant noodles is high in carbohydrates but low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Noodles are typically fried as part of the manufacturing process, resulting in high levels of saturated fat and/or trans fat. Additionally, if served in an instant broth, it typically contains monosodium glutamate (MSG) as well as a high amount of sodium, usually in excess of 60% the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance.
While many processed convenience foods leave much to be desired nutritionally, the particular concern over ramen is a response to its use as a dietary staple for many Americans. College students in particular consume large amounts of instant noodles; the wide availability, very low cost (often below 25¢), ease and speed of preparation, and portability of the product make it appealing to young adults with little money and/or time to spare. A popular college urban legend states that a student gave himself scurvy by living on nothing but ramen for an entire year.
The most recent controversy concerns dioxin and other hormone-like substances that could theoretically be extracted from the packaging and glues used to pack the instant noodles. As hot water is added, it was reasoned that harmful substances could seep into the soup. After a series of studies were conducted, various organizations requested changes in the packaging.
The idea of instant noodles can be traced back to the Chinese Qing Dynasty, when yimian noodles were deep-fried which allowed them to be stored for long periods and then prepared quickly. Similarly, "Chicken Thread Noodles" (deep-fried thin noodles served with boiling water and optionally an egg) were available in China and Taiwan since Qing Dynasty.
Modern instant noodles were invented in Japan by Taiwanese Japanese businessman Momofuku Ando (安藤百福), the founder of Nissin Foods, one of the biggest manufacturers of instant noodles today. His noodles were boiled with flavouring, deep-fried with palm oil to remove moisture, and dried into a noodle cake. Other preservation methods have been tried, including preservation with salt and smoke, but Ando concluded that palm oil is the most efficient.
In 1958, Nissin launched the world's first instant noodle product, Chikin Ramen (chicken-flavored instant ramen) in Osaka. Another milestone was reached in 1971 when Nissin introduced the Cup Noodle, instant noodles in a waterproof styrofoam container that could be used to cook the noodles. Further innovations include adding dried vegetables to the cup, creating a complete instant soup dish.
According to a Japanese poll in the year 2000, instant noodles were the most important Japanese invention of the century. Karaoke came second, with the compact disc only coming in fifth. As of 2002, approximately 65 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten worldwide every year.
Instant noodles are not only popular with college students, they can also be an economic indicator. In 2005, the Mama Noodles Index was launched to reflect the sales of Mama noodles, the biggest manufacturer in Thailand. The index was steady since the recovery from the East Asian financial crisis, but sales jumped by around 15% in first seven months in 2005 on year-to-year basis, which was regarded as a sign of recession. People could not afford more expensive foods, hence the increase in the purchase of ramen, as ramen is seen as an inferior good.
· 1 decade ago