This dehydrated food consists of wide noodles, assorted dried vegetables and flavouring powder. It 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. Each pot also regularly contains a sachet of sauce, such as soy sauce. Pot Noodle has been linked to lad culture, with its advertising and packaging being viewed as controversial and sexist.
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. Unilever acquired Golden Wonder with the Pot Noodle brand in 1995, and kept it when it sold Golden Wonder to Tayto in 2006. (Golden Wonder later established another line of pot noodles called The Nation's Noodle in direct competition with their former brand.)
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 175 million pots annually.
The public perception of the product was often 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. 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.
In 2007, the brand changed their logo.
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.
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Golden Wonder introduced a similar convenience food "Pot Rice" in the early 1980s. It was made from dehydrated rice, wheat protein, vegetables, and flavourings, sold in a plastic pot. Pot Rice was later manufactured by Unilever and Knorr when the Pot Noodle brand went through a series of acquisitions and takeovers in the 1990s. It was discontinued in the early 2000s.
Pot Rice was prepared by adding boiling water to the plastic pot. The dried food would start to swell, and after two minutes the mixture was stirred, and a sachet of sauce added ("Chicken Risotto", "Chicken Curry", "Chicken Korma" or "Beef and Tomato"). After three further minutes, the Pot Rice was ready to eat.
"Pot Mash" was a similar branded mashed potato snack, sold by the makers of Pot Noodle in the UK and Ireland in the late 1990s.
"Pot Casserole" consisting of dried pasta was introduced during the 1980s, but discontinued before the turn of the century.
The Pot Noodle brand has been involved in a number of controversial advertising campaigns. In August 2002, a series of television 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 May 2005, the Advertising Standards Authority received 620 complaints, about a series of advertisements featuring a man with a large brass horn in his trousers, with the suggestive 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."
- Original Curry
- Chicken and Mushroom
- Beef and Tomato
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