The Surprisingly Inspiring History of Instant Noodles

Instant noodles are a humble meal – the saviour of many a broke student, an easy meal when you’re feeling too lazy to cook. But the two-minute meal hides an unexpected tale of perseverance, with some inspiring lessons for all of us.

Hard Work Pays Off

Instant ramen noodles were invented in Japan in 1958 by a man named Momofuku Ando. He’d seen first-hand the terrible effects of hunger during and after World War II, and vowed to find a way to prevent that from happening again.  Mr Ando spent an entire year trying to turn traditional ramen noodles into a cheap, quick and transportable meal. He was so dedicated to the task that he slept only four hours a night. The story goes that one day he threw some noodles into the oil his wife was frying for tempura, and realised the resulting product was just what he was looking for – the noodles kept for a long time, were transportable, and would turn into a meal simply by adding hot water.

Don’t Let Setbacks Hold You Back

Mr Ando’s great success came when he was 48 – as he put it, “There’s no such thing as too late in life”. It was his third career – he’d worked in clothing manufacture, but the building he worked in was levelled by bombings in World War II. He then worked as a bank chairman, but lost his job when the business went bust. And it wasn’t just his career that was a result of trial and error – his instant noodles came after hundreds of experiments. “I came to understand that all of my failure—all of my shame—was like muscle added to my body,” he once said.


Food Can Change The World

Mr Ando was a pretty wise dude, too. After seeing the widespread hunger and poverty wrought by World War II, he successfully created a solution that has since been used in numerous natural disasters to keep people nourished. And his tips for his employees read like something you’d find in a new age self help manual.

“The fundamental misunderstanding of humanity is believing that we can achieve all our desires without limitation.”

“Peace will come when people have food.”

“Eating wisely will enhance beauty and health.”

Now, who wants some noodles?