A Salute to Ramen.


Moses: Whatcha eating?
God: Ramen.

(from the Urban Dictionary) 


Perhaps ambrosial is a bit of an overstatement, but ramen is hard to beat. There are foods out there that are tastier; plenty that are healthier or more convenient; and maybe there’s even something cheaper. But all those things at once? Instant ramen is in a class all its own.

Friend to the college student. Sustenance and comfort in an uncertain economy. We pay tribute to the ubiquitous squiggly noodle brick with its foil packet of powdered flavoring.

Small rooms, limited cooking facilities. No, not dormitories. Prison. As prisons go smoke-free, instant ramen noodles have replaced cigarettes as the currency of the incarcerated. At an institutional price of about 20¢ a packet, prison ramen is estimated to be an $80 million economy.

Ramen in Popular Culture- Ramen ranks #27 on the list of Stuff College People Like. 84 separate ramen definitions are entered in the Urban Dictionary. The  phrase ramen-profitable has entered the business lexicon when referring to a start up making just enough to cover a subsistence living for its founders. A major poll of the Japanese public identified instant ramen noodles as the country’s most significant invention of the 20th century. The noodles inspired the naming of the popular record label, Fueled by Ramen.

Ramen as economic indicator- the Mama Noodle Index: Sales fluctuations of Mama, Thailand’s top-selling brand of instant noodles, have been correlated with the country’s financial market activity. Since 1995, a jump in ramen sales has consistently precipitated the market’s decline, while a drop in sales has reliably predicted periods of prosperity.

Ramen as currency- If the recent government bailout of the banks had been paid in ramen, it would have been enough noodles to give 520 packets to every person on the planet. More even, if you figure there’d be a pretty good volume discount.

Ramen and health- Instant ramen noodles are high in carbohydrates but low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Typically fried or fused with oil as part of the manufacturing process, they are high in fat; often the most unhealthy saturated or trans fats. Sodium levels vary in a single serving but can contain a full day’s worth, including the dreaded monosodiun glutemate. Beriberi, a nervous system disorder that was the scourge of 19th century Japan, is making a comeback among college students as a result of the un-enriched ramen-based diet.

Shop for ramen- have a box of ramenliciousness delivered to your doorstep— or better yet, send one to your favorite dorm dweller. Ramenbox lets you put together your own custom-mixed case from their broad ramen assortment, and $5 ships it anywhere in the U.S. Use the RamenRater to guide your selection.

Cook some ramen- find recipes for the vegetarian, recipes for parties and holidays, and more at 100 Awesome Ramen Recipes for Starving College Students.

Ramen of the Future- read the report from this year’s 7th (biannual) World Instant Noodles Summit.

Eat some ramen—just not too much. That’s using your noodle.

4 Responses to A Salute to Ramen.

  1. Lora says:

    My husband loves these…still trying to find out why. We made fun of him on a recent camping trip when he insisted on taking them along. I haven’t eaten them since college. LOL

  2. Janice says:

    I had no idea that pilots have so much in common with college students and prisoners.
    No more complaints out of me about airline food.

  3. I have referenced Ramen noodles (“a pilot’s best friend”) numerous times in my ASK THE PILOT articles on Salon.com.

    Like this one…



  4. Hey nice to see my site being used as a guide. Thanks! Let em’ know!

    By the way – also got a facebook page for Ramen Rater

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