Nissin Food Products Co. Ltd. was founded by a man named Momofuku Ando (安藤百福). Because of him, we have instant noodles.
We owe the late Mr. Ando our thanks on the lazy Sunday afternoons or the desperate late nights we consume that trusty package of flash-fried wheat noodles and MSG powder. His legacy on Earth is great (though one could argue that the key role styrofoam plays in the Cup Noodles empire is not very supportive of the environment), but his influence stretches beyond our realm to the stars. Actually.
“Space Ram”, launched 4 years ago on board the Space Shuttle Discovery, is the result of Nissin’s desire to expand their client base. The zero gravity style ramen comes in at least 4 different flavours including miso and curry and has been altered from what we get on our green planet so it doesn’t disperse and fly around (so readily) in a weightless environment. Aside from that, just like its done down here, all the Space Ram needs is a quick five minute bath in (almost) boiling water. Who says dining in space can’t be multicultural? In fact, Mr. Noguchi, who was a mission specialist aboard Discovery in 2005, can tell you about all the different kinds of Japanese food one can get on a flight to the ISS, here.
Mr. Ando’s Chikin Ramen of the 1960s, which is still on the market today, has come a long way (check out his museum). Instant noodles are a global food reality—at least 40 some countries carry it in some form, with regional brands and variations of course. Even North Korea has been exposed to Mr. Ando’s famous creation (albeit first because it was sent as food aid, but the notion is progressive nonetheless) and now have their own brand!
Perhaps next time you put that water to boil and make ready a bowl and chopsticks, you can imagine that someone is doing something similar way up high in the Earth’s orbit.