Happy Birthday, to the King of Instant Ramen!

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Mankind is noodlekind.

-Momofuku Ando

Have you seen today’s Google Doodle? We’re kind of obsessed.

March 5, 2015 marks the 105th birthday of food scientist/food history maker Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen! As someone who grew up on this stuff we bow down to you, Mr. Ando!

 Nowadays, instant ramen is a household staple for many–from college dorms, to swanky restaurants–ramen is the Jon Cho of the food world (in terms of celebrity status from the Asian community…does that analogy work?). In 2013, over 105 billion servings of this simple brick of dried noodles sold worldwide [1] and Japan has touted instant ramen as its greatest invention of the twentieth century [2].  There’s no question, the world loves instant ramen.

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Aside from the darling animations, what we really love about this mini-campaign is the global exposure to a historic person of color in our food system. And Momofuku Ando is just the beginning. Our food system was build on the backs of people of color, but rarely is credit given to these folks. So, bravo to Google doodles for giving us air time!

Here’s a quick run down of Momofuku Ando and instant ramen’s history [3]:

  • Momofuku Ando was born and raised in Taiwan, but built his empire in Japan.
  • Momofuku was 48 when he invented instant ramen in 1958. He’d already run a successful textile company and been convicted of tax evasion (to provide scholarships for students) by that time.
  • The idea for instant ramen was in response to the devastation of Japan, post-World War II. He identified the hunger and famine that swept his nation and wanted a simple food solution to feed the masses.
  • The original instant ramen was flash fried and took 10 years to develop. After trial and error, lightening struck when Momofuku saw his wife frying tempura.
  • Cup Noodle is also a Momofuku Ando innovation created in 1971 (at the age of 61) to make instant noodles a global product.

We encourage you explore Momofuku’s story and use it as a starting point. Get know the history of your food, its origins, and who was responsible for getting it to your plate. If you need a place to start, check out The Daily Meal’s “17 Most Influential African American’s in Food” article.  I’m going to go out on a whim here and say a good portion of your favorite foods wouldn’t be available without people of color.

And if you want to celebrate Momofuku Ando’s legacy, whip up a batch of instant ramen gnocchi per the clever recipe by David Chang, chef and owner of the Momofuku restaurant empire. Happy slurping!

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