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momofuku ando, inventor of instant noodles 1910-2007

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It is with a heavily clogged heart that I come to you today with news of the passing of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. The 96 year-old founder and chairman of Nissin developed a fever and was en route via ambulance to a Kansai-area hospital when he died of a heart attack at 6:40 pm Japan time.

Born Wu Bai-Fu, Ando was a Taiwanese immigrant to Japan who in 1958 perfected a flash-frying method by which he could create cakes of dried noodles. “Chicken Ramen” was at first an expensive, luxury food item, but innovations in manufacturing soon brought prices down. The first ever instant ramen became a ubiquitous and popular snack food during Japan’s lean, post-war years. In 1964 Ando founded the Instant Food Industry Association, which established standards for instant noodle quality.

The chairman of the International Ramen Manufacturer’s Association had been working in a reduced role within Nissin right up until the time of his death, having recently developed “Space Ram” - ramen for astronauts headed into space. The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka is named in his honor.

Reincarnate well, my good man. I’ll have a nice green salad in your honor.

http://www.rameniac.com/index/comment...

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  1. Amen.

    1 Reply
    1. re: grocerytrekker

      Thanks for posting this news. Anyone ever visit the museum?

    2. The funeral took only four minutes!

      No, but I've been to the railroad & salt museum in Tokyo, the sushi museum in Shimeji.

      1. i totally wanted to go, this last time i was in japan. the museum is quite a ways out from central osaka if i remember correctly, and alas i couldn't make it out there. next time for sure!

        1. Awwww. :( He helped me live through my graduate school years. I used to munch on raw ramen noodles.

          I know. (It's gross!) But I still love ramen "fried rice" and ramen corn chowder, two of my poor grad school favorites.

          1 Reply
          1. re: IndyGirl

            uncooked instant ramen is actually a pretty popular snack food for many. you can season the package and then smash it up, or if you have access to a japanese supermarket, try the Baby Star varieties - they're basically dried instant noodles packaged for snacking.

          2. Some people sprinkle crunchy ramens over a salad. My daughters, college age, eat them dry out of the package discarding the flavor packet of course.
            May he rest in peace!!

            1. Instant ramen, peanut butter, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil: a beloved cheapie meal of my impoverished student days. R.I.P., old man, and thanks. Don't forget to throw away that packet.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                oh my lord... i can't even begin to comprehend how that tastes.

                1. re: rameniac

                  It's basically a budget variant of a cold sesame noodle recipe; you combine the non-noodle ingredients in a little saucepan on a fifth burner, then stir them into noodles you've cooked in an electric kettle. Actual proportions: 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1.5 teaspoons rice vinegar, healthy dash of dried hot red pepper flakes, 1 packet of sugar, 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, 1 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil, 2 teaspoons water. A little fresh grated ginger is a nice addition, but I didn't always have that on hand. This is surprisingly not awful, and a better bit of dorm-room cuisine than the one recipe my buddy ever made: Ragu on English muffin, American cheese melted onto it in the toaster oven ("pizza", blech). We were very poor.

              2. Slightly off topic, but how did he get the name Momofuku Ando? From my love of Momofuku, the restaurant in Manhattan, I know that it means "lucky peach." But how did Wu Bai-Fu come to change his name. Anyone know? Thanks.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Non Cognomina

                  His original name Bai Fu -meaning hundred fortunes- is read as Momofuku in Japanese.

                  Bai is byaku or hyaku, but also momo - means hundred, a great number, all, a great amount
                  Fu is fuku - means fortune, luck, wealth, blessing. Even "food which has been offered to gods" according to my Andrew Nelson dictionary. (!)

                  p.s. Peach is also momo, but it's a different character - "to".

                  1. re: grocerytrekker

                    Thank you, thank you! Momofuku in NYC mentions nothing of Momofuku Ando in any of their literature, but they are the kind of guys who I would expect that sort of "play" on words to also be an homage to this important noodle dude.

                2. He emigrated from Taiwan. Immigrants change their names all the time.
                  Could mean "happy peach".
                  No, I don't know why he chose it.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Leonardo

                    Also to become a citizen, not an easy thing in Japan, you have to change your name to a Japanese name.

                    1. re: ML8000

                      Wasn't Taiwan a Japanese territory at that time?

                      1. re: JMF

                        It was under Japanese military occupation for many years until the end of the war.

                  2. Famous legend about the PeachBoy, Momo Taro, perhaps he took it from that?

                    1. NYTimes has noticed his passing as well:
                      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/09/opi...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: welle

                        It actually made the #1 "most e-mailed list". and it's still there.
                        http://www.nytimes.com/gst/mostemaile...

                      2. The museum is in Ikeda...just outside Osaka proper.

                        1. Finally heard about this on NPR last night. Took long enough!