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Pot Noodle is a brand of instant noodle snack foods, available in a selection of flavours and varieties. Its dehydrated mixture consists of wide noodles, assorted dried vegetables and flavouring powder. Pot Noodles used to contain textured vegetable protein but this has since been removed. The product is prepared by adding boiling water, which softens the noodles and dissolves the powdered sauce. The product is packaged in a sturdy plastic pot, from which the prepared noodles can be eaten, and each pot also regularly contains a sachet of sauce, such as soy sauce.
Instant noodles were originally developed in 1958 by Momofuku Ando as Cup Noodle. Golden Wonder launched the Pot Noodle brand in the United Kingdom in 1977. The Golden Wonder brand was acquired by Unilever in 1995. Golden Wonder was then sold to Tayto in 2006, with Unilever retaining the Pot Noodle brand. Golden Wonder has since established another line of pot noodles called The Nation's Noodle in direct competition with their old brand. A "GTi" variant, prepared in a microwave instead of adding boiling water, was introduced in the late 2000s and was the first Pot Noodle to contain real meat.
Pot Noodles are manufactured in Croespenmaen, near Crumlin, Caerphilly, Wales, which became the topic of a 2006 advertising campaign, showing fictitious Pot Noodle mines in Wales. The factory typically produces 155 million pots annually.
A 2004 survey suggested that Pot Noodle was the single most loathed brand in Britain, with the public perception of the product being that it was of a low quality and only eaten as a result of laziness or poverty. Around 2006, Pot Noodle's recipe was changed to make the product healthier. This mostly involved cutting down on the amount of salt in the product. In 2007, the brand's logo was changed.
Pot Noodle has often given promotional gifts away, including a 'horn' and a 'spinning fork'. During the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Unilever sponsored a musical directed by David Sant, and created by advertising agency Mother, set in a Pot Noodle factory.
Despite the product's high sales volume, it was voted the "most hated brand" in the UK in a 2004 poll.
The Pot Noodle brand has been involved in a number of controversial advertising campaigns. A 2002 series of TV adverts that described Pot Noodle as "the slag of all snacks" was withdrawn after complaints to the Independent Television Commission. The related poster campaign, revolving around the "Hot Noodle" range with a tagline of "hurt me, you slag" was withdrawn by Unilever after the Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints that "the tone could be interpreted as condoning violence".
In 2005, the Advertising Standards Authority received 620 complaints about a series of advertisements based around the slogan "Have you got the Pot Noodle horn?". Some of the complaints described them as "tasteless and offensive". The three advertisements had been already approved for restricted times, primarily after the 9:00pm watershed. The ASA did not uphold the complaints. In its decision, while it accepted the campaign was "a little crude", that they were harmless and "the timing restriction was appropriate".
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- Elkins, Ruth (7 January 2007). "Mr Pot Noodle dies, aged 96". The Independent. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
- "The Nation's Noodle website". Retrieved 8 December 2010.
- Ed Kemp (24 July 2009). "Golden Wonder to take on Pot Noodle with 'The Nation's Noodle'". Marketing magazine. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
- "From Pot Noodle to pit for advert". BBC News. 9 May 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
- Swaine, Jon (5 August 2008). "Advertisers create Pot Noodle: The Musical". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "Pot Noodle UK's most hated brand". Daily Mail. 28 September 2004.
- Jennifer Whitehead (19 August 2002). "Pot Noodle banned from calling itself the "slag of all snacks"". brandrepublic.com.
- "Pot Noodle advert 'caused offence'". BBC News. 19 August 2002.
- "'Irresponsible' Pot Noodle ad withdrawn". BBC News. 28 August 2002.
- "Broadcast Report". Advertising Standards Authority. 18 May 2005. Retrieved 3 March 2012.