Instant Noodles Thrive As Worldwide Phenomenon

How Japanese food shortage 60 years ago led to billions of servings of instant noodles every day in countries around the world, including Simply Food’s line of artisan instant noodles


It’s been a long day. Too tired to cook. Delirious with hunger.


You crave ramen. You desire pho. Some kind of flavor-packed broth with silky rice noodles. Takeout? It’ll cost at least $12. You’ll have to place the order and wait to pick it up, which means heading back out again. Delivery is an option. But you’ll still have to wait. With delivery fees and a tip, the price begins to flirt with $20.


And then you remember. There, in the pantry, a $1.50 cup of instant ramen: noodles, a packet of dried seasonings, another pouch of liquid flavor and fats, all of it packaged in a cup. Boil water. Pour hot water over cup ingredients. Wait three minutes.




Instant noodles have saved us over and over again. We eat simple versions, just chicken broth, some spices, and noodles. We buy packages with shrimp paste and tofu, with crab and freeze-dried bok choi, with powdered coconut and galangal and dried shiitake.


We have become a world of instant-noodles, including Simply Food’s line. But prior to 1958, they really didn’t exist.


How Japan Brought Instant Noodles to the Globe


A decade after the end of WWII, people in Japan still experienced food shortages. When the island nation’s Ministry of Health began promoting bread, using American wheat flour, a Taiwanese native in Japan named Momofuku Ando began developing a method for making noodles more convenient. Japanese were accustomed to eating noodles, rather than slices of bread. Ando wanted to help relieve Japan’s food crisis with something culturally resonant, rather than an overseas imposition.


After months of R&D, Ando landed on a flash-frying procedure that pre-cooked noodles while keeping them crisp and shelf-stable. All they needed was hot water to turn supple. And thus on August 25, 1958 was born the world’s first batch of instant noodles.


Instant Noodles Spread Worldwide


Momufuku Ando’s instant noodle revolution became a worldwide staple. According to the World Instant Noodles Association, about 290 million servings of instant noodles are eaten every day. That translates to 106.4 billion servings a year.


The Chinese market is the largest, with 41 billion servings a year, followed by Indonesia with 12.5 billion, India with 6.7 billion, Japan with 5.6 billion and Vietnam at 5.4 billion. Clearly the Asian market dominates. But the next biggest consumer after Vietnam is the United States, with 4.6 billion servings.


Per capita, Koreans (by far) are the world’s most voracious consumers of instant noodles. The average Korean eats 75 servings a year, followed by the Nepalese at 57.6 servings and the Vietnamese at 56.9 servings.


Different Cultures Nurture Tapestry of Instant Noodles


In Hong Kong, seafood-based instant noodles soups are tops, and people eat their noodles with toppings at “cha chaan tengs,” which are no-frills restaurants. It’s a breakfast and snack meal in Hong Kong.


Instant noodles are lashed with fiery chili in Korea, where beef and seafood bases are popular. The Koreans also like thick noodles, which often include potato starch.


They’re called “Mi Goreng” in Indonesia and because the country is majority Muslim, most packs of instant noodles are halal. As 60 percent of India’s population is vegetarian, vegetable- and tomato-based soups are the most common across the subcontinent, and curry flavors rule. Russian prefer chicken instant noodles, and they eat them everywhere including on sleeper trains that cross the country’s vastness. One Russian oddity: they sometimes eat instant noodles with mayonnaise. And like the Russians, American consumers are especially fond of chicken soups, but beef, shrimp and vegetables are also slurped.


Vietnam Supports Especially Fine Instant Noodles


And then there is Vietnam and Thailand, where gluten-free instant rice noodles are supreme. That said, consumers in both countries also enjoy noodles, like ramen, crafted from wheat.


In Thailand pork flavors are popular, and hot chili is preferred.


Vietnamese noodle lovers like Tom Chua Cay flavor, which is a mixture of shrimp and acidic flavors like citrus. They frequently add extra ingredients to their instant noodles, like onions, lemon and chili peppers. Instant noodles in Vietnam are popular for both breakfast and dinner. And the Vietnamese are especially fond of noodles that are springy and elastic.


Simply Food’s products are built on generations of dedicated noodle craftsmanship in Vietnam.


Simply Food Artisan Instant Rice Noodles Embody Culinary Craftsmanship


Vietnamese people eat nearly 57 servings of instant noodles a year, making them No. 3 per capita worldwide for instant noodle consumption. The passion for instant noodles shouldn’t surprise: instant noodle manufacturers in Vietnam invest a lot of craft into their products, turning out some of the finest rice noodles on the globe.


The foundation of Vietnam’s instant noodle excellence revolves around quality. Where instant noodle brands in other countries often focus on the packets of spices and fats, and consider the noodles themselves as afterthoughts, Vietnamese companies devote more attention to the noodles.


That certainly is the case at Simply Food, a US company with deep roots in Vietnam. Simply Food’s artisans in Vietnam devote their professional lives to the art of noodle creation: experimenting with rice or wheat blends for ideal textures and flavor; toiling to perfect hand-crafted and mechanical procedures that reliably produce perfect noodles in abundance; and making sure noodles are packaged and stored to preserve longevity.


Simply Food Vegan Instant Noodles Set New Standards


The company’s line of instant noodles — Simply Food Vegan Ramen Noodles, Simply Food Vegan Pho Instant Noodles and Simply Food Kiwi Noodle Bowls — stands on a foundation of noodle artisanship. Simply Food workers then carefully flash-fry the noodles, making them ready for the application of hot water. In just three minutes, the noodles are elastic, silky, sturdy and flavor-packed.


Each style artisan instant noodle includes broth ingredients crafted out of things like real mushrooms, vegetables, spices, herbs and oils.


People worldwide are passionate about instant noodles. They nosh on them for breakfast and afternoon breaks. They fortify the noodles with their own culinary preferences, adding things like chili flakes, fish sauce and cilantro to their bowls. And they sometimes even skip the soup, instead using the noodles, spice blends and fats to craft satisfying stir-fries and curries.


The global market has expanded tremendously since Japan introduced the world’s first batch of instant noodles more than 60 years ago. Given their affordability and versatility, as well as the devotion of brands like Simply Food to constantly innovate and improve, that market is sure to continue to grow.