Monday, January 12, 2009

Momofuku Ando

Today we honor Momofuku Ando (1919-2007), founder of Nissin Foods and the man who introduced instant noodles to the world.

Shortly after the end of World War II, Ando founded a small merchandising firm in Japan, but the firm went bankrupt when Ando was convicted in 1948 of tax invasion and spent two years in jail. After losing this company, he founded a company in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan producing salt. The company later became Nissin Foods.

Ando invented his instant noodles in response to the food shortages in post WWII Japan. At the time the Ministry of Health was encouraging people to eat bread made from wheat flour supplied by the United States. The Ministry of Health was insisting that the noodle industry in Japan was too small to meet demand of the country as well as was too unstable.

After hearing this response, Ando set out to develop a production process for the noodle that would make it inexpensive and easy to prepare. In 1958, he marketed his first package of precooked instant noodles. The noodles were moistened, then allowed to dry before they were flash fried. When the consumer bought the product, the only preparation for the meal involved boiling water and stirring in the seasoning packet.

While originally an expensive luxury item, Ando's instant noodles steadily declined in price. Since his original product, Ando has expanded his company to also create cup noodles, making instant noodles even easier to prepare.

After Ando's development of the instant noodle, it became a world wide sensation. In 2004, annual servings of the noodle were over 70 billion.

Ando also founded Instant Food Industry Association to help set quality guidelines for instant noodles. The Association also provides food to areas that have been hit by natural disasters. Ando believed peace will only come to the world once everyone has enough to eat, and he worked to make an easy, inexpensive dish to help meet the world's demand for food.

Wikipedia: Momfuku Ando
Wikipedia: Nissin Foods
MIT Invetor of the week: Momfuku Ando

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