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Momofuku Ando: The man whose instant ramen saved college students from starvation

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Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A woman chooses instant noodles at a supermarket in Beijing.

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Today is the 105th birthday of the man responsible for affordably feeding college students with his beloved invention: instant noodles.

Google Doodler Sophie Diao captured Momofuku Ando – the inventor and humanitarian – and his passion for noodles in a Google Doodle on March 5. Born in 1910, he dedicated his life to entrepreneurship, and in that discovered a quick way to feed the hungry.

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He started his first business at the age of 22, and was inspired by seeing people wait in long lines for a bowl of ramen on the streets of post-World War II Japan. He wanted to feed people faster and cheaper, and dedicated his life to figuring out how to do so. While Top Ramen may take only three minutes to cook, the recipe took much longer to develop.

“It took 48 years of my life for me to come up with the idea of instant noodles. Each and every event in the past is connected to the present by invisible threads,” Mr. Ando said.

Ando founded Nissin Food Products Co. with the invention of instant ramen noodles. He introduced chicken ramen in 1958, and Cup Noodle in 1971. In 2005, he created a special vacuum-packed version of ramen to travel with a Japanese astronaut aboard the Discovery space shuttle. At this point, Ando was in his 90s. He died two years later in Japan.

Instant noodles have become a comfort food for millions, as a staple in college dorms and as a quick treat on a cold day. Starting with simple chicken broth, the company eventually developed 16 flavors. Some flavors – such as pizza, bacon, taco, or cheese curry – are a little less universally comforting.

With so many ways to prepare instant noodles, it is no wonder they became an instant hit among hungry people short on time. Twitter users share some of their instant noodle thoughts.

Thank you Momofuku Ando, and happy birthday.


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