Instant noodles are dried or precooked noodles and are often sold with packets of flavoring including seasoning oil. Dried noodles are usually eaten after being cooked or soaked in boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes, while precooked noodles can be reheated or eaten straight from the packet. Instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Andō of Nissin Foods, Japan.
Instant noodles were first marketed by Momofuku Ando, who was born in southwestern Taiwan when the island was under Japanese colonial rule,in Japan on August 25, 1958, under the brand name Chikin Ramen. In 1971, Nissin introduced the Cup Noodles, instant noodles in a waterproof polystyrene cup, to which boiling water could be added to cook the noodles. A further innovation added dried vegetables to the cup, creating a complete instant soup dish.
According to a Japanese poll in the year 2000, instant noodles were the most important Japanese invention of the century. As of 2008, approximately 94 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten worldwide every year. China consumes 45 billion packages of instant noodles per year – 48% of world consumption – Indonesia, 14 billion; Japan, 5.1 billion. Per capita, South Koreans consume the greatest amount of instant noodles, 69 per capita per year.
Instant noodles are not only popular with college students, they can also be an economic indicator. In 2005, the Mama Noodles Index was launched to reflect the sales of Mama Noodles, the biggest instant noodle manufacturer in Thailand. The index was steady following recovery from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, but sales increased about 15% on a year-to-year basis in the first seven months of 2005, which was regarded as a sign of an inferior good, one whose consumption increases as incomes fall. The theory was that the increase in sales of instant noodles, which are usually cheap, occurred because people could not afford more expensive foods.
Instant noodles are often criticized as unhealthy or junk food. A single serving of instant noodles is high in carbohydrates but low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Noodles are typically fried as part of the manufacturing process, resulting in high levels of saturated fat and/or trans fat. Additionally, if served in an instant broth, instant noodles typically contain high amounts of sodium. The current U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance of sodium for adults and children over 4 years old is 2,400 mg/day; in extreme cases, some brands may contain over 3,000 mg of sodium per package. Instant noodles and the flavoring soup base may also contain high amounts of monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Instant noodles (raw)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
|1,895 kJ (453 kcal)|
– Dietary fiber
|Thiamine (Vit. B1)||0.7 mg (54%)|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.4 mg (27%)|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||5.4 mg (36%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||147 μg (37%)|
|Iron||4.3 mg (34%)|
|Potassium||120 mg (3%)|
|Sodium||1160 mg (50%)|
One package is 80 g
The most recent controversy concerns dioxin and other hormone-like substances that could theoretically be extracted from the packaging and glues used to pack the instant noodles. It was reasoned that harmful substances could seep into the soup as hot water was added to cup style instant noodles. After a series of studies were conducted, various organizations requested changes in the packaging to address these concerns.
Another concern regarding the consumption of fried foods, including instant noodles, is the possible presence of oxidation products resulting from poor maintenance of the oil. If the cooking oil is not maintained at the proper temperature or changed as often as necessary, these oxidation products, which are suspected to pose various health risks, can be present in the foods. Proper production standards minimize the risk.
Instant noodles worldwide
Instant noodles have become a popular food in many parts of the world, undergoing changes in flavor to fit local tastes.
In Argentina instant noodles are gaining popularity and can be found in most major cities in supermarkets. The brand is usually Sapporo Ichiban. The Maruchan brand can also be found at Disco and Coto supermarkets. Due to the recent Chinese immigration wave, specialized Chinese supermarkets offer a wide variety of instant noodle brands.
The most popular brand of instant noodles in Australia was Maggi noodles for some time and, because of a strong advertising campaign, continue to be highly popular despite being amongst the highest-priced packet noodles. Many other brands have entered the market; almost every popular brand of Japanese and Indonesian noodles is available in Australian supermarkets and convenience stores, because of the cultural mesh of Asian cuisine in Australian life. Among cup noodles, the most popular brand is Fantastic Noodles. Among packet noodles, there are four popular choices, Indomie Mi Goreng (fried Indonesian noodles served without broth), Ibumie Har Mee (Malaysian traditional Penang Prawn Noodles) Nissin’s Demae Ramen, and Nong Shim’s Shin Ramyun served with broth.
Instant noodles are not widely popular in Belgium and are expensive. The most common brand is the Westernized “Aiki Noodles”, but sales are low. Authentic Japanese and Thai instant noodles can be found only in Asian specialty stores, and in very limited quantity in some supermarkets.
For a long time, the main manufacturer of instant noodles was Nissin Miojo, to the extent that, in Brazil, the most common name for them is “miojo”, although the manufacturers call them “lámen” or “l’amen”. Many other companies, such as Maggi and Nestlé, also offer this product. There are many variants, such as “Lámen Cremoso”, which has a creamy sauce, and “Lámen Hot”, which includes pepper, as well as yakisoba and spaghetti. Unlike its original concept, most Brazilians don’t prepare and consume instant noodles as a soup. Instead, they prefer to drain most of the cooking water and eat it like pasta.
The major brands available in Canada are Sapporo Ichiban, Knorr and Mr. Noodles. In some areas, the noodles are referred to simply by these brand names. These main-brand packages generally only contain one flavoring pouch. Other brands may include a small package of sesame oil. Korean brands such as Nong Shim are readily available in most large grocery stores, and in some major cities, brands imported from Europe are available. Asian markets found in larger cities typically carry dozens of different brands and varieties. Due to the large South Asian population in some major cities, Maggi is also a popular brand. The term kimchi, in reference to imported Korean ramen, is also popular, particularly in the West Coast cities of Vancouver and Victoria.
China is a fast-growing market for instant noodles. The market is focusing on higher-end products, generally costing more than 1 RMB. The top three brands in this category dominate more than 85% of the market; for the lower end, those costing less than 1 RMB, the leading five brands hold about 60% of the market share.
The dominant brands in the Chinese market are:
- Ting Yi (aka Master Kong or Kang-shi-fu, 康師傅), owned by the Taiwanese Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corporation and managed with a Japanese strategic alliance partner Sanyo Food, the third-largest player in the Japanese market. Master Kong is the largest brand, with a business scope extending to beverages (RTD) and bakeries.
- Uni-President (aka President or Tong-Yi, 統一), a PLC listed in Taiwan. Like Master Kong, it once had its own businesses in beverages and bakeries. However, the company recently formed a JV partnership with Hwa-Long and Nissin to distribute beverages. Uni-President’s home market is Taiwan, but the company is now expanding aggressively in mainland China.
- Hwa-Long (華龍, i.e. Chinese Dragon), a local company allied with Nissin. Because of that relationship, Hwa-long has long been regarded as Nissin’s agent in the world’s largest consumer market. Recently Hwa-long, Nissin, and Uni-President formed a partnership in the beverage business in order to collectively compete against Master Kong.
- Bai-xiang (白象, i.e. White Elephant), a local company spin-off based on a former state-owned enterprise, which still enjoys a strong local customer base. It is a leading brand in terms of volume, and its products fall into the lower price range.
Virtually all supermarkets sell instant noodles of some sort, but they tend to be Westernized and come in foam containers, costing upwards of 10 kroner (2 dollars). Ethnic stores and specialty shops offer the most popular alternative, Yum Yum, whose prices range from 4–6 kroner; “3 for 10” offers are nearly universal. Its popularity has been sufficient to become a generic brand name. Mama, another brand from Thailand, is the second most popular Eastern brand but has a much smaller market share. Wai Wai, made in Nepal, is also available. Most Danish supermarket instant noodles contain MSG as a flavor enhancer.
In Ethiopia, the most popular instant noodle brand is Indomie because of its variety of flavors and affordable price. It is referred to as “Lehulum Tesmami”, meaning “Suitable For All” in the Amharic language. Its sole agents and distributors are YSO & SONS General Trading PLC.
Noodles are ubiquitous in all urban grocery stores and supermarkets. Packet noodles are the norm, while cup noodles are often pricier and are seldom available outside ethnic food shops. Yum Yum and Mama cost about half a euro, while Koka’s higher-end offering, featuring a larger portion of non-fried noodles with no trans fat and no preservatives, costs about one euro a piece.
Instant soups have a long tradition in Germany, back to 19th century, with, for example, the inventions of Justus von Liebig, or Maggi products. Instant noodles as discussed here, however, were relatively unknown in Germany until the 1990s, but they have since continually gained in popularity.
There are two types of ramen in Germany: the first, generally called “Instant-Nudeln” (instant noodles), tends to be a mild, Westernized version and comes in flavors such as chicken, vegetable, beef and button mushroom. The second type is called “Ramen” and is quite similar to traditional ramen as it is known in Asia. German “Ramen” was originally considered an ethnic food and was only available in specialty stores. Since the mid-1990s, it has become available at German supermarkets. The most popular brands are Yum Yum, Nissin Cup Noodles and Maggi.
Cantonese people have a long history of cooking yi mein, an early form of instant noodles invented in the Qing Dynasty. Modern instant noodles were publicly introduced as “Doll Noodles” in the late 1960s by Winner Food Products Ltd, which was bought by Nissin in 1984. That term has since become a synonym for instant noodles irrespective of brand in Hong Kong and Southern China. Shin Ramyun as well as Demae Itcho is another well-known brand.
India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
The most popular brand in the three countries is Nestlé’s Maggi, which is regarded in popular culture as a two-minute noodle. Other popular brands include Top Ramen Smoodles and Cup Noodles manufactured by Indo-Nissin Ltd, Ching’s Instant Noodles, AA Nutritions’s Yummy, and Wai-Wai, owned by the Chaudhary Group from Nepal and India. Smith & Jones and Ching’s secrets are also popular new brands of instant noodles in India. Wai Wai is gaining momentum and is domintaing market in North Eastern states, Sikkim and west Bengal. Its unique taste and snack like feature is making it popular in other parts of India as well.
Local flavors such as masala and chicken tikka dominate. The most popular flavor of Top Ramen is known as “Curry Smoodles”; its flavorings mimic a basic curry, including onion, garlic, coriander, and a curry masala. A package sells for 10–12 rupees in India and 16 rupees in Pakistan. In India, there is also great demand for unflavored instant noodles; brands such as Bambino and Ching’s dominate the market. Ching’s and Smith and Jones are brand of Capital Foods Ltd.,(Masala,Curry, Chicken Masala under Smith and Jones brand and Ching’s Flavor are Manchurian, Schezwan , Hot Garlic and Chicken Roast Garlic.
ITC launched its Yippee noodle under Sunfeast Brand.
Because of increasing health consciousness, Nestle introduced an instant noodle based on whole wheat grain flour, called Atta Noodles. Instant rice noodles are also available in various flavors. However, Nestle’s original “Maggi” masala flavored noodles continue to be the most successful brand of instant noodles not only in India but in the United States for Indian Americans, as well. Although, Nestle is yet to introduce a microwaveable version of “Maggi” noodles, their current products continue to be increasingly popular.
Foodles, a new instant noodle brand was launched in late 2010, focussing on health issues, with the tagline, ‘ Noodles without the No ‘. This range has significantly higher nutrition values compared to other popular brands. It comes in both Multigrain and Wheat-only forms. The brand is owned by Horlicks.
With production peaking at 8.66 billion packs in 1996, Indonesia is the second largest producer of instant noodle after China which produces 16 billion packs a year. The first widely known instant noodle in Indonesia was “Supermi”, introduced in the 1970s by Indofood Sukses Makmur, the largest instant noodle producer in the world. It later introduced two additional brands – “Indomie” and “Sarimi”.
Currently, Indofood Sukses Makmur has a market share of about 70% of Indonesian instant noodle production. In 1999, the figure was about 90%; their market share declined following the introduction of “Mie Sedaap” by Wings Food in 2003.
Indonesians prefer noodles with a strong flavor. Popular flavors of Indonesian instant noodle include Chicken Curry, Onion and Chicken, Beef Meatball, and Chicken Soto, a traditional Indonesian chicken soup. In the past, Indomie tried to produce 30 different flavors to reflect various traditional dishes of Indonesian cuisine, but the product line was discontinued after disappointing results with only several popular variants remain in production. Strong local preferences contribute to the low volume of sales of Japanese and other foreign instant noodles in Indonesia; hot and spicy Korean noodles appeal most to these tastes and have the largest market share among foreign instant noodles.
A dry instant noodle meant to replicate the traditional Indonesian dish Mi Goreng, or fried noodle, is also popular in Indonesia. Most of the market share is owned by the product Indomie Mi Goreng.
The most popular brands of instant noodles in Ireland are Koka Noodlesand Pot Noodle. Koka are distributed by the Boyne Valley Group for the Irish market.
Japan is the country of origin of instant noodles. Instant noodles remain a “national” light food. The average Japanese person eats 40 packs of instant noodles per year.
After their invention by Taiwanese-Japanese Momofuku Andō in 1958, instant noodles became very common in Japan. In the 1970s, makers expanded their flavors to include such examples as shio (salt ramen), miso, or curry. Beginning in the 1980s, makers also added dried toppings such as shrimp, pork, or eggs. This, however, made instant noodles more expensive, and their popularity decreased for a while. Today, instant noodles are divided into two groups: “traditional” cheap (¥150 to ¥200) noodles with few toppings and expensive (¥200 to ¥500) noodles with many toppings, which are often packed into a pouch. Various kinds of instant noodles are produced, including ramen, udon, soba, yakisoba, and pasta.
Major makers in Japan are:
- Nissin Food Products 日清食品, whose famous brands include Chicken Ramen and Cup Noodles, has a 40.4% market share As of 2005.
- Tōyō Suisan 東洋水産, nicknamed Maruchan, whose brands include Akai Kitsune and Midori no Tanuki, has a 19.2% market share.
- Sanyō Foods サンヨー食品, Sapporo Ichiban, has a 11.5% market share.
- Myōjō Foods 明星食品, Charumera, has a 9.9% market share.
- Acecook エースコック, Super Cup, has a 8.3% market share.
Malaysia and Singapore
The most well-known brand is Maggi, which has become practically synonymous with instant noodles. Curry is a favorite flavor; other popular flavors include chicken, tom yum, and asam laksa. Both soup-based and dry variants are readily available. Indomie, Nissin, Cintan and Mamee brands of instant noodles are also well-loved by both Malaysians and Singaporeans.
Though instant noodles are usually eaten at home, they are also becoming increasingly popular as restaurant or cafe meals, especially in Hong Kong-themed “cha chan teng” cafes and “Mamak” food shops. These meals are usually modified according to the chef’s taste and include minimal monosodium glutamate.
In recent years, instant noodles manufacturers have tried to introduce low-MSG seasonings, as well as new processes that do not require frying for the noodles, and have introduced new flavors such as chilli crab and seafood.
The Apollo noodle is very popular in Mauritius. Popular flavors include shrimp, curry, chicken and vegetable.
Instant noodles are gaining popularity in Mexico, where they are often viewed as a snack-grade food. Flavors such as lime or chili are popular, often combined with shrimp. It is available in almost every store and convenience store in Mexico. This kind of soup was introduced in the 1980s by the Maggi Corporation as “Instant Maggi Ramen”, marketed in a small plastic bag with artificial flavors, but it did not become popular until cup noodles were introduced in 1990 by Maruchan. Today, many local brands such as “La Moderna” and “Herdez” have developed their own cup noodles, adapting local flavors such as “fideos”, “sopa azteca” and “mole de olla”.
Instant noodles are very famous in Nepal. In the early 1980s, Gandaki Noodles (P.) Ltd. of Pokhara city, introduced Rara, a white instant noodles named after the largest lake of Nepal. It was a fair success among urban population. Then in around 1985, Chaudhary Groups(CG) entered the market with Wai Wai. Wai-Wai noodles, a brown, spicy and precooked noodle, became a big hit among the people. Over the years, its popularity has grown heavily and consist of a major part of the dry foods sold in Nepal and are available in any part of the country. There are many producers and brands of instant noodles in Nepal, where they are a staple food. Famous instant noodles brands are:
- Wai-Wai noodles, Golmol produced by CG. Wai Wai is popular in India too. CG has established its factories in India.
- Mayos, Ru-Chee, Hurray produced by Himalayan Snax & Noodles Pvt. Ltd. (HSNPL)
- 2pm, Rumpum by Asian Thai Foods Pvt. Ltd. (ATF)
The Netherlands is home to a fairly large Indonesian community, which has generated Indonesian supermarkets known as Toko. Various brands of instant noodles are sold through both these outlets and non-specialty supermarkets, including Indomie Mi Goreng, Maggi, Unox, Thai varieties such as Mama and Yum Yum, and some more expensive alternatives, such as Good Noodles. Both cup and packet varieties are available.
In Nigeria, Indomie is the most popular instant noodles brand. Since its introduction in 1988, Indomie has had a remarkable impact on the Nigerian culinary landscape. Instant noodles are now eaten in most households across the country. By 2008, nine other brands of noodle had appeared on the market. Affirming Indomie’s hold on the market, Christopher Ezendu, a distributor at the popular Oke-Arin market on Lagos Island, reported that these other brands are aspiring to be like the market leader.
According to the World Instant Noodle Association, Nigeria was the 13th largest consumer of instant noodles in the world in 2007.
Instant noodles were first introduced to North Korea by way of food aid from South Korea in the 1990s. In 2004, over 600,000 boxes of Shin brand Ramyeon were sent to North Korea as part of the aid relief program when Ryongchŏn train station exploded, injuring many North Korean civilians. However, insider sources state that most of it was sold in North Korean black markets, making its way to Pyongyang, instead of distributed as aid. North Korean visitors to China also frequently purchase South Korean ramyeon from Chinese stores, where Shin Ramyeon is known as “Korean Tangmi Ramyeon”.
Indigenous production of Ramyeon in North Korea began in 2000. The first Ramyeon brand was “kkoburang kuksu”, which literally means curved noodles in Korean. Later, a joint venture by North Korean and Hong Kong-based companies began producing “chŭksŏk kuksu” (즉석 국수), which literally means “instant noodles”. Ramyeon are popular among North Korean elites who live in Pyongyang and Nampo. In contrast to hot and spicy South Korean Ramyeon, North Korean Ramyeon has a much milder and brothier flavor.
In Norway, every supermarket sells instant noodles of some kind. The top-selling brand is the Yum Yum! brand imported from Thailand, which is sold at the supermarket chain Rema 1000 or in ethnic stores in larger cities. Another popular brand is the Norwegian brand Mr. Lee. Yum Yum is often sold in 5-packs for 7-8 Norwegian kroner. Mr. Lee is typically more expensive, costing 10–34 kroner.
In Peru, Maruchan brand ramen had been the only brand sold for a long time. Recently, Aji-no-men ramen became available in a wide range of flavors, including beef, chicken, chicken with greens, hen, spicy hen, creole-style hen, shrimp, and oriental-style.
There are many local and imported brands of instant noodle in the country, which are locally known as “instant mami”, after the Philippine version of chicken noodle soup. Well known brands in the Philippines include Lucky Me, Payless, Nissin Cup Noodles, , QuickChow, and Ho-Mi. They are sold in packets, sealed cups or sealed styrofoam bowls. Because of their fast preparation and affordability, instant noodles are popular as a quick snack or for breakfast.
Filipinos sometimes add a scrambled egg into the chicken noodle soup while cooking it. Another popular variation is the instant pancit canton, stir-fried noodles resembling the local pancit. These noodles are boiled and drained, then a flavoring powder, soy sauce, oil and bits of carrot and celery are added.
Instant noodles began appearing on Polish store shelves during the early 1990s. Despite being called “Chinese soup”, the first brands on the market were produced in Vietnam and had a somewhat spicy, garlic-flavored taste. The noodle packages contained pouches of flavored soup base, spicy oil, dried vegetables or even minuscule shrimps.
The product gained particular popularity among students due to its affordability and convenience. “Kaczka łagodna” (Mild duck), “Kurczakowa łagodna” (Mild chicken) and “Krewetkowa ostra” (Spicy shrimp) were the most common flavors. Today, the local Kim Lan and worldwide Knorr brands offer varieties ranging from cheese-and-herb flavored noodles to local Polish specialties like barszcz czerwony or żurek.
Ngoc Tu Tao, who emigrated to Poland from Vietnam and established the Tan-Viet Group in 1990, is credited with introducing instant noodles to Poland. His Vifon brand holds a 25% share of the Polish instant soup market, selling over 100 million packages a year. Ngoc Tu Tao has appeared in Wprost magazine’s annual ranking of the 100 most wealthy Polish citizens.
Inexpensive supermarket private-label brands and regular midmarket products do not differ much in taste, while their prices can range from PLN 0.49 to PLN 2.00. Noodles packaged in foam bowls are slightly more expensive, priced from PLN 3.00 to PLN 5.50.
Russia’s most popular instant ramen are the local brand Rollton and the Korean brand Dosirac (Korean for “lunch box”). Instant noodles have been popular in Russia’s Far East region since the late 1980s and made their way west in the early 1990s. In Russia, like most noodle products, they are still considered a lesser-quality option to turn to in lean economic times. They are popular among college students as a snack but not as a regular meal.
The most popular brand is Indomie, with a 96% market share. Indomie is the generic name for instant noodles in the region; the brand is produced by Pinehill Arabia Food at plants at Jeddah and Dammam.
Instant noodles have become commonplace in South Africa since the 1990s, when they were first introduced to the general consumer market. While various brands are available, the most common is Maggi 2 Minute Noodles. South Africans prefer milder flavors, and the most common flavors are chicken, beef, cheese and prawn. Because of their low cost, instant noodles are popular in South Africa’s poorer communities. They are also popular among students and office workers as a quick snack.
In the 1960s, instant ramen was introduced to South Korea from Japan, and its quick and easy preparation and cheap price made it quickly popular. In South Korea, instant noodles are more common than non-instant ramen noodles; the word ramyeon (라면), a cognate of the Japanese ramen, generally means the instant kind. Most South Korean food stalls make instant ramyeon and add toppings for their customers. Instant ramyeon is also often added to budae jjigae (literally “army base stew”), a stew made with assorted ingredients, which was invented in the 1950s in the vicinity of U.S. military camps in South Korea.
Ramyeon is typically spicy. Shin Ramyun (신[辛], literally “spicy”) is the best-selling brand in Korea. It has also become popular in China and the United States. The leading manufacturer of ramyeon in Korea is the Nong Shim company, which exports many of its products overseas.
Instant noodles have been widely available in Swedish supermarkets for more than 10 years and are very popular, especially among students. The most common brands include Nissin’s Demae Ramen, Samyang, Euroshopper, Eldorado and ICA. Other brands include Mr. Cup cup noodles and Little Cook. Cup noodles are usually sold for 10 SEK per package, while packet noodles are usually sold at 4 for 15, 5 for 20 or 6 for 30. Brands like Yum Yum, Mama’s and Wai Wai are widely available in immigrant food stores, often priced at 3 for 10.
Instant noodle inventor Momofuku Andō (安藤百福) was born in Taiwan. According to statistics from the International Ramen Manufacturers Association, Taiwan is the world’s 12th largest instant noodle market, with an annual NT$10 billion (US$300 million) in sales. This translates into an annual total of 900 million packs, or 40 per person. Uni-President (aka President or Tong-Yi, 統一) takes the largest market share of instant noodles in the country, and is a major player in the global instant noodle market.
The most popular flavors in Taiwan are beef noodle soup and minced pork noodle.
The most popular instant noodle in Thailand is “Mama” or dindin cup noodles; Tom Yum Shrimp is the favorite flavor. Other local players in the market include the Wai Wai and Yum Yum brands. Due to their ubiquity, instant noodles were chosen as a vehicle for dietary fortification by a joint effort of the Federation of Thai Industries, instant noodle producers, and the Ministry of Public Health about 10 years ago. The vitamins and minerals added are iron, iodine and vitamin A. Unlike Japanese or Malaysian instant noodles, Thai noodles are seasoned with chicken stock before frying, giving them extra flavor, and they are sometimes consumed directly as a snack without further cooking. Instant noodles have spread all over Thailand, and now include real dehydrated meat such as pork and beef.
Instant noodles have been quite popular in Ukraine in the past 10 years because they are cheap and save time. Mivina, a former food producer for cosmonauts located in Kharkiv, is the most popular producer of instant noodles in the country. Mivina noodles can be cooked as soup or eaten dry; dry instant noodles are as popular in Ukraine as potato chips and croutons. Mivina is rivaled by the Russian Rollton, which also produces instant noodles for quick soups.
The most common form of instant noodles in Britain is Pot Noodle, a cup noodle founded by Golden Wonder in the late 1970s. These use artificial flavorings (there is no chicken in Chicken Pot Noodles, for example) and are sold by virtually every major supermarket chain, general groceries shops, and convenience stores.
Packet noodles such as Batchelors’ Super Noodles are also popular and are synonymous with student life; most supermarket chains offer value noodles for as little as 8 pence. Several of the larger supermarkets also offer eastern brands such as Nissin, Koka noodles and Shin Ramyun, which once could only be found in Asian groceries. Noodles such as Maggi can also be found in many groceries, but are less widespread.
In the United States, instant noodles were first available by Nissin Foods in 1971 and were marketed as “Oodles of Noodles.” In 1972, Nissin Foods introduced “Nissin Cup Noodles” in a styrofoam cup, which led to an upsurge in popularity. Soon after, many other competing companies were offering similar instant noodle products.
Today, in the U.S., the ubiquitous instant noodle product is commonly known as ramen, after the Japanese dish on which it is based, and it comes in a variety of mostly meat-based flavors. Common flavors in the United States include chicken, pork, beef, mushroom, shrimp, roast beef, roast chicken, chili, chili lime, vegetable, and “oriental” (soy sauce flavored). Other flavors, including shoyu, miso, and kimchi, are also available at supermarkets and convenience stores. The three major brands are Nissin Top Ramen, Maruchan Ramen, and Sapporo Ichiban. Thailand’s “Mama” brand is also quite common in the United States. Ramen noodles are extremely popular among college students, due to their low cost and ease of preparation.
Instant noodles are popular in Vietnam, where they are often eaten as a breakfast food. Both wheat and rice noodles are common. Acecook Vietnam JSC is a leading producer of instant noodles. Another major producer and exporter is Vifon. Popular Vietnamese instant noodle soups include Oriental, Bún bò Huế flavored, Phở and Hủ tiếu Nam Vang, a Phnom Penh-style rice noodle.
Unlike most other brands of ramen noodles, Top Ramen’s “Oriental” and “Chili” flavors are vegetarian, as the seasonings do not contain animal fat.