Momofuku Ando

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Momofuku Ando
Born (1910-03-05)March 5, 1910
Kagi County, Japanese Taiwan
(now Puzi, Chiayi County, Taiwan)
Died January 5, 2007(2007-01-05) (aged 96)
Ikeda, Osaka, Japan
Alma mater Ritsumeikan University
Known for Inventor of instant noodles
Spouse(s) Masako Ando
Children Hirotoshi Ando
Koki Ando
Akemi Horinouchi

Momofuku Ando (安藤 百福 Andō Momofuku?), ORS, (March 5, 1910 – January 5, 2007) was a Taiwanese-Japanese businessman who founded Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. He is famed as the inventor of instant noodles and Cup Noodles.

Early life[edit]

Ando was born Wu Baifu (traditional Chinese: 吳百福; simplified Chinese: 吴百福; pinyin: Wú Bǎifú; Wade–Giles: Wu Pai-fu; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Gô Pek-hok) in 1910 into a wealthy Taiwanese family in Chiayi County, Taiwan (under Japanese colonization). Ando's parents died when he was at an early age. He was raised by his grandparents in Tainan.[1] His grandparents owned a small textiles store, which inspired him to start his own textiles company using 190,000 yen, at the age of 22, in Eirakuchō (Chinese: 永樂町; pinyin: Yǒnglè Tǐng), Taipei.

In 1933, Ando travelled to Osaka, Japan on business. After World War II, Ando became a Japanese citizen and moved to Japan, where he entered Ritsumeikan University and at the same time founded a small merchandising firm in Osaka with the inheritance from his family. "Momofuku" is the Japanese reading of his Chinese given name (百福), while "Andō" (安藤) is a common Japanese surname.

He was convicted of tax evasion in 1948 and served two years in jail. In his biography, Ando said he had provided scholarships for students, which at the time was a form of tax evasion. After he lost his company due to a chain reaction bankruptcy, Ando founded what was to become Nissin in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan, starting off as a small family-run company producing salt.

Development of instant noodles[edit]

With Japan still suffering from a shortage of food in the post-war era, the Ministry of Health tried to encourage people to eat bread made from wheat flour that was supplied by the United States. Ando wondered why bread was recommended instead of noodles, which were more familiar to the Japanese. The Ministry's response was that noodle companies were too small and unstable to satisfy supply needs, so Ando decided to develop the production of noodles by himself. The experience convinced him that "Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat."[2]

On August 25, 1958, at the age of 48, and after months of trial and error experimentation to perfect his flash-frying method, Ando marketed the first package of precooked instant noodles. Called Chikin Ramen (チキンラーメン?), after the original chicken flavor, it was originally considered a luxury item with a price of ¥35,[3] around six times that of traditional udon and soba noodles at the time. Ando began the sales of his most famous product, Cup Noodle (Kappu Nūdoru (カップヌードル?)), on September 18, 1971 with the masterstroke of providing a waterproof polystyrene container.[4] As prices dropped, instant ramen soon became a booming business. Worldwide demand reached 98 billion servings in 2007.[5] As of 2007, Chikin Ramen is still sold in Japan and now retails for around ¥60, or approximately one third the price of the cheapest bowl of noodles in a Japanese restaurant.

In 1964, seeking a way to promote the instant noodle industry, Ando founded the Instant Food Industry Association, which set guidelines for fair competition and product quality, introducing several industry standards such as the inclusion of production dates on packaging. He was also the chairman of the International Ramen Manufacturers' Association and the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is named after him.

According to The Financial Times, Ando's invention of Cup Noodles in 1971, at the age of 61, helped spark the popularity of instant noodles overseas. He had observed that Americans ate noodles by breaking the noodles in half, putting them into a cup, and dousing hot water over the noodles. They also ate them with a fork instead of chopsticks. Ando was inspired, and felt that a Styrofoam cup—with a narrower bottom than the top—would be the ideal vessel for holding noodles and keeping them warm. Eating the noodles would then be as easy as opening the lid, adding hot water and waiting. This simplicity, efficiency and low price of Cup Noodles went on to transform Nissin's fortunes.[6]

In May 2009, Gotham Books published The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life,[7] a memoir by Andy Raskin about how Momofuku Ando changed his life.

Death[edit]

Ando died of heart failure on January 5, 2007 at a hospital in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture at the age of 96.[8]

Ando is survived by his wife Masako, two sons and a daughter. Ando claimed that the secret of his long life was playing golf and eating Chicken Ramen almost every day. He was said to have eaten instant ramen until the day before he died.[9][10]

Honors[edit]

Ando was repeatedly honored with medals by the Japanese government and the emperor, including The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Second Class, in 2002 which is the second most prestigious Japanese decoration for Japanese civilians.

  • Medal of Honor with Blue Ribbon (1977)
  • Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class, Gold and Silver Star (1982)
  • Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon (1983)
  • Director-General of the Science and Technology Agency "Distinguished Service Award" (1992)
  • Order of the Rising Sun, Second Class, Gold and Silver Star (2002)

Order of precedence[edit]

  • Senior fourth rank (2007, posthumous)

Commemoration in the United States[edit]

Momofuku Ando Day was established January 2007 at a small hospital in Dallas, Texas. Recognizing the genius life of the man whose product has fed billions, a group of healthcare workers first celebrated the day on January 19, 2007. Each participating employee brought several packages of favorite ramen flavors to a banquet table from which employees could sample. The second year, January 2008, participating employees developed unique dishes using ramen as the prime ingredient. The Day also kicked off the "It Starts With Me" campaign promoting charitable giving and customer service. Unfortunately, the hospital was corporately closed in June 2008. In January 2009, several of the transferred employees continued Momofuku Ando Day by sharing it with their new coworkers at a sister facility. Understanding that ramen has been a staple food for victims of disaster and the poverty-stricken, as well as for college students and those wanting a quick meal, Momofuku Ando Day became an endeavor to help feed those in need by fundraising for charitable organizations, or simply calling attention to poverty or hunger through ramen or food donations to local food banks and free meal kitchens. The day has since been celebrated the second Friday of January to allow Mr. Ando due recognition.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 速食麵之父 吳百福病逝 (自由時報 2007 年1 月7 日 星期日)
  2. ^ "Ando was king of instant ramen". Japan Times. 
  3. ^ "RCCラジオ-土曜はドドーンと満員御礼" (in Japanese). RCC Broadcasting. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  4. ^ "Space-age funeral for 'Mr Noodle'". BBC News. February 28, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Expanding Market". World Instant Noodles Association. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  6. ^ "Obituary: Momofuku Ando". Financial Times. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  7. ^ "The Ramen King and I". Gotham. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  8. ^ Ando was king of instant ramen | The Japan Times Online
  9. ^ "安藤百福さん 死去前日、社員とチキンラーメン雑煮" [Mr. Ando ate Chikin Ramen with colleagues the day before he passed away.] (in Japanese). The Sankei Shimbun Web-site. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  10. ^ Người phát minh ra mì ăn liền qua đời (Vietnamese)
  11. ^ Chism Delaney RN BSN, Carrie. "Momofuku Ando Day: It Starts with Me to End Hunger", Kindred Hospital Walnut Hill Newsletter, Dallas, February 2008.

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