Feature: Soapbox Musings

A Salute to Ramen

Author: Janice Gregg
Published: August 21, 2010 at 7:28 am

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.

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Article Author: Janice Gregg

Food– love it. Love everything about it. Technology– the jury’s still out. But there is no denying the impact it’s had on how we eat. We’re not talking pasteurization here; we’re talking internet. …

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