Speaking of things uniquely Japanese, Telstar Logistics would like to pause for a moment to mark the passing of a man who had a profound impact upon the people of Japan, to say nothing of tens of millions of hard-working college students and cubicle-dwellers worldwide. Momofuku Ando, the inventor of Cup Noodles instant ramen and founder of Nissin Food Products, is dead at the age of 96.
As Reuters explains:
Born in Taiwan in 1910 while it was under Japanese occupation, Momofuku Ando ran clothing and other companies in Taipei and Osaka early in his career.
He was inspired to develop the world's first instant noodle product after coming across a long line of people waiting to buy fresh "ramen" noodles from a black market stall during the food shortages after World War Two, Japanese media said.
Providing the instant noodles in a waterproof styrofoam container that could be used to cook them using just hot water proved a stroke of marketing genius that made the product a hit with time-pressed people around the world.
Ando remained in the public eye until recently -- appearing on television in 2005 to promote a version of the Cup Noodle adapted for astronauts to eat aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
Often seen devouring servings of the dish he invented, Ando opened a museum devoted to instant noodles in Osaka in 1999.
It must be said that while Ando did much to combat hunger among the time-pressed and cash-lean throughout the world, his contribution to ramen cuisine remains problematic. With all due respect, it's tragic that many non-Japanese know of ramen only as a salty freeze-dried noodle thing that is typically served in a styrofoam cup. A bowl of real ramen, however, is a delicious and subtle work of art which bears little resemblance to its instant counterpart (as the superb 1985 film Tampopo amply demonstrated). When done right, it can even trigger earthquakes.
Nevertheless, Ando's instant noodles museum has been added to the Telstar Logistics Catalog of Global Must-See Tourist Destinations, and we look forward to sharing photos of it at an unspecified future date. In the meantime, we extend our condolaneces to his widow, Masako.
Nissin Food Products (company website in English): LINK
The Instant Ramen Invention Story (Flash animation in Japanese) RECOMMENDED! LINK
Ramen (Wikipedia entry): LINK
Ramen and Noodles Pool (Flickr group): LINK