Inventor of Top Ramen Dies

Score one for the geeks: Maybe the real secret to a long, healthy life isn’t running marathons and eating organic broccoli. Maybe what will get you hale and hearty into your 90s is eating lots of instant noodles at your desk.

Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen and the founder of Japanese food-industry giant Nissin Foods, makers of Top Ramen and Cup Noodles—and thus a man who had surely ingested more than his share of MSG-laden seasoning packets—was 96 years old at the time of his death last week. He held his position as Nissin’s chairman from the company’s founding in 1948 until 2005.

Across the blogosphere, Ando was saluted as the sustainer of students and computer programmers everywhere. Comparing ramen to other cheap, noodle-based eats like boxed mac ‘n’ cheese and canned spaghetti, Lawrence Downes gets downright poetic in The New York Times, noting,

Ramen noodles, by contrast, are a dish of effortless purity. Like the egg, or tea, they attain a state of grace through a marriage with nothing but hot water. After three minutes in a yellow bath, the noodles soften. The pebbly peas and carrot chips turn practically lifelike. A near-weightless assemblage of plastic and foam is transformed into something any college student will recognize as food, for as little as 20 cents a serving.

According to his obituary in The Japan Times, Ando was especially proud of Nissin’s introduction of Space Ram, vacuum-packed noodles made for Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to eat aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Said Ando, “I’m happy to have realized my dream that noodles can go into space.”

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