[Interface Studio 2007] Project CUP NOODLE : Stage 01

CUP NOODLE - Instant Ramen in the Cup Story

Ramen is one of the Japanese most favorite meal of all time, just like sandwich/bread in Western world. Amazingly, Ramen instant noodle was voted to be the most influential inventions of Japan in 20th century, by The Fuji Research Institution Corpration's millennium survey.

- Story Of The Instant Noodle

Dated back to Chinese Qing Dynasty, the deep-fried noodle was one of the popular dishes during that time and considering as one way of food preservation. However, the first person who invented today instant noodle is Taiwanese-Japanese business man, Momofuku Ando (nickname the noodle King!) who was a founder of the most worldly well-known instant noodle manufacturer, "Nissin".

Due to the great food shortage in Japan during 2nd World War, the inexpensive Ramen became popular as it was a great sources for calories and energy. However, the long lines of hungers gave Ando an idea of making teasty ,safe and easy to cook Ramen. In 1958, the noodle cake that was boiled with seasoning and deep fried to removed moisture, became the world first instant noodle, "Chikin Ramen (Chicken flavoured Ramen)", under the slogan of "Just add hot water and wait 2 Minutes". This deep-fried technique was initally inspired by seeing Ando's wife vegetable tempura.The product had such an enormous success that it had a nickname "miracle Ramen". It also played a significant role in contribution of the Instate Food boom in 1960s, as well with newly arrived instant coffee.

- Story Of Cup Noodle

In the mid 1960s, with many new instant food manufacturers entered the markets and declining sales of Nissin's products, there were the quests for new invention. During their company first trip to America, the hometown of fast-food, they realised that noodle could be also eaten in the cup just like a cup of soup. The cup itself could serve as its packaging and the cooking container. The aluminum cap was accidentally inspired by the seal of macadamia-nuts supper package served on the plane on their returning trip. They also found 'foam' as the perfect primary material for the cup (inspired by seafood containers in the fish market which has the high level of heat and cold resistance). Finally, it took 5 years of experiment to perfect the world first 'cup noodle'.

Cup Noodle came with its own cup which is highly convenient in function, making the product truly instant/ready to eat meal. It is proved popular among the college students, late night walkers, and J-snack fans. This inventions had significantly caused many major cultural shifts in modern world history, such as own-containers products trend( e.g. cup coffee or desert), food vending machine trend, promoting the idea of noodle snack, eating anywhere anytime (Mini Ramen was then introduced as the snack line), Eastern fast food habit and to 24-hours convenient store culture(7/11). Further more, it is also listed in the same category with storable can-food products, as the valuable food for emergency and disaster uses. Today, approximately 86 billion meals of instant noodles were consumed in a year worldwide. Now you can enjoy it almost everywhere in the world!


- Cup Noodle secret

Nissin's Cup Noodle has became a international symbol for convenience. The form of the cup has never changed from its original, 33 years ago. The secret of Cup Noodle is laid on its perfect fit between food design and packaging design. The good quality of instant ramen merges with colourful tasty ingredient of dried shrimp, dried vegetable and other seasoning. The cup holds the noodle in middle leaving the gap at the bottom. This allows the hot water to come in contact with maximum area of noodle cake and soften noodles and other ingredient with shortest amount of time. The cup would then fit the noodle piece from above in order to prevent noodle from breaking apart, another notable manufacturing technique.

- Materials

There are several types of instant noodle containers in the market, ranging from paper, Styrofoam to plastic materials, such as polyethylene, polypropylene(PP) and polystyrene. Especially for the cup-type noodle container, it is more than just a package but the cooking vessel. Therefore, the materials must have high levels of heat, (boiled) water and oil resistance, with good thermal resistance and strength, in order to meet strictly Japanese Government Standard(JAS).

- Technological Inventions

Recently, Nissin has introduced 'Refill Cup Noodle', responding to the environmental concerns over the wasted container. The consumer buy the starter pack containing the reusable plastic cup, and then only purchase their favorite instant noodle to refill which considerably cheaper than buying a new Cup Noodle. This reusable cup is built with double-layers wall, in term of heat prevention from hot water and also decorative purpose. The users can customised their own cup via slide-in label, either downloading from Nissin's website as PDF or creating their own design and print them. Nissin has proven their technological adaptation as well as keeping up on the changing global trends.

Apart from Japan, its major instant noodle competitor, Korean is also developing variuos new type containers for noodle. A good example is the decomposable container made from corn flour, by the manufacture, Daesang Co.. It has the high levels of decomposability which create no risk for soil pollution. However, the product have high costs of production but surely will become major replacment of conventional polystyrene container in the near future.

- More About Cup Noodle

Nissin has an ongoing development for the special instant noodle engineered for Japanese astronauts to fill their hungers on space, so called 'Space Ram'. It reflected their campaign, ' Cup Noodles No Border' - they were even the first who shot their TV commercial on the international space station.

In addition to the success of the Cup Noodle, other little funny inventions are also taken into account. For example, the Cup Noodle Timer cap fit with standard size of Cup Noodle. Just forget the clock, it will alarm you when the noodle is ready, you can choose from 3,4 or 5 mins. Who will know in the future, you will only pure the tap water in, the cup will boil water and cook the tasty noodle for you!

More invention : Electronic Heater and 3 Mins Timer for Cup Noodle




Advertising Age; 9/11/2006, Vol. 77 Issue 37, p17-17, 1/2p, 1c
AsiaPulse News, Sept 12, 2002 p4236
Innovative New Packaging in Japan, May 25, 2007 pNA
"Insulated instant noodle cup." Innovative New Packaging in Japan (June 25, 2007): NA. General OneFile. Gale. New School University. 10 Sept. 2007