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What Are Instant Noodles?

C.H. Seman
C.H. Seman

Instant noodles are noodles that are fried in oil, dried, then sold in small packages, usually with a flavor packet of dried seasonings. They are a type of convenience food and can be prepared quickly. Most instant noodles require only boiling water and can be prepared with a microwave oven or a stove top. Instant noodles are renowned for their simplicity and low cost.

Taiwanese-Japanese businessman Momofuko Ando (1910-2007) invented instant noodles in 1958. They were developed in Japan to create a food that could best take advantage of wheat imports from the United States after World War II. The concept of bread was relatively uncommon to the Japanese during this period, and using wheat flour to make noodles provided a food that was more culturally accepted. Momofuko Ando's original instant noodles were chicken-flavored.

Instant noodles were invented in Japan by Momofuko Ando in 1958.
Instant noodles were invented in Japan by Momofuko Ando in 1958.

Instant noodles usually are made from processed wheat flour. They might also contain dried vegetables, dried tofu or precooked meats such as shrimp. A small packet of spices and powdered stock is often included in order to make a soup. The entire noodle packet might be sold in plastic packaging or a polystyrene cup.

The healthfulness of instant noodles varies depending on the manufacturer and the kind of wheat used to make the noodles. Instant noodles are considered high in carbohydrates, and the broth made from the spices and powdered stock is usually high in sodium. Additional vegetables and meats in the noodle packet can change the vitamin, fiber and protein content of the entire meal.

As with most instant food items, instant noodles usually are cheap and are a favorite among college students because of their low cost. They also are popular with this demographic because they are very easy to cook and do not take a long time to make. The sales of instant noodles can be used as an economic indicator of an area because the usage of low-cost goods increases as incomes decrease. This does not imply that instant noodles are not used in well-developed countries or affluent areas, however.

Instant noodles typically are made by placing the dried noodles in boiling water for three to five minutes or until the noodles become soft. Traditionally, the noodles are boiled in a pot and then contents of the flavor packet is mixed in. For instant noodles in a polystyrene cup, boiling water is added to the cup and allowed to cook the noodles. Some people simply put the noodles and water in a bowl and cook it in a microwave for several minutes. To decrease the sodium content of the final product, less than the entire contents of the flavor packet can be added, or the broth can be partially drained.

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Discussion Comments


I eat instant noodles all the time but I don't use the little spice packet in the instant noodle package. I add my own flavorings like chili bean sauce, rice vinegar and miso. If I have cooked meat or eggs in the fridge, I throw that in as well. I can make a complete meal this way in a matter of minutes.


@burcidi-- You're right but you must agree that instant noodles are probably the best invention of our generation. It has fed a lot of students and bachelors.

I'm not going to argue about how healthy it is. As you said, it's very high in sodium. It's also mostly carbohydrates and has little to no fiber. Obviously it's not the ideal way to eat but no one is telling people to eat it three times a day. Moderation is key and I'm not going to blame manufacturers of Chinese/Japanese instant noodles for people's eating habits. It wouldn't be bad if they cut down on the salt a little bit but I think that there are lower sodium varieties on the market.


I ate instant Ramen noodles almost daily when I was in college. I stayed in a dorm and the only thing that I had available to me was a microwave. So if I got hungry after the cafeteria closed or if I missed a meal for some reason, I would prepare a cup of instant noodles in the microwave. It was a great meal for a student, it was cheap, tasty, efficient and quick.

I'm older now and I can't have instant noodles anymore because of the sodium content. My blood pressure is borderline and my doctor told me to be careful. I wonder if all the salt packed instant noodles I ate in college have something to do with my blood pressure levels. I realize now that instant noodles are not a good meal and they are not healthy. Most young people don't have high blood pressure and will not experience problems immediately. But I think this sort of thing builds up in the system.

I guess my advice to college student is to take it easy when it comes to instant noodles. It's okay to have it once in a while, but definitely not every day.

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    • Instant noodles were invented in Japan by Momofuko Ando in 1958.
      By: sommai
      Instant noodles were invented in Japan by Momofuko Ando in 1958.