Food that, stereotypically, computer geeks, specifically programmers, eat. The food falls into three categories: high in calories, easy to make, and high in caffeine. The idea of geek food comes from programmers staying late into the night, well, programming. To waste no time, they need sustenance that can be made quickly and can give them a caffeine boost. Some typical foods include hot pockets, ramen, bawls/jolt cola, take-out Chinese, and various chips. (Urban Dictionary)
When you think of ramen, the first thing that usually comes to mind is that dried noodle block with the foil flavor packet you used to live on in college when your refund checks were no longer flourishing. It’s the sustenance of college students and the budget-conscious everywhere. We’ve all eaten this inexpensive creation at one point in our lives or another, but to truly appreciate this culinary masterpiece, one must explore the humble foundations of the cup of noodles we have all come to know and love.
While exploring the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama, Japan you can visit the My Cupnoodles Factory, where you can create your own original cup of noodles, decorate the packaging, and have fun mixing and matching the variety of soup flavors and toppings. In the My Chicken Ramen workshop, you can make your own instant noodles from scratch, package them, and take them home to eat later. The museum even has a Cup Noodles Park, children’s playground modeled after a noodle factory where kids pretend to be noodles being shipped out of a factory.
But the ultimate attraction for anyone who loves this geek food is the Noodles Bazaar, a food court that resembles an Asian night market. Once you walk in, you will be overwhelmed with the varieties of noodles and the aroma of pad thai, pho, and Kazakh stew. The place even has sounds that mimic hawkers and traffic to increase the experience of exploring the food stalls of Hong Kong or Singapore. Although the portions come in small plates, it is so cheap that you can consume everything this market has to offer without breaking your budget.
At the Cup Noodle Museum, you can discover not only the foundations of the world’s first instant ramen but also the history of the inventor, Momofuku Ando. With Japan still suffering from a food shortage after World War II, Momofuku Ando went through months of trial and error to perfect his flash-frying method to create the first package of precooked instant noodles to assist with the scarcity. In the museum, you can learn about Ando’s creative process, his business philosophies, and explore the progression of Ando’s invention that transformed from a “made in Japan” ramen into a global food. In 2005 Ando created his last invention and transcended his own expectations by creating “Space Ramen,” a noodle in a thick broth that can be eaten while in space and doesn’t require boiling.
The highlight of the visit is the interactive movie that tells the story of how Ando was bankrupt at age 48 and decided to reinvent his life and his business model. Through months of determination, he ultimately invented a product that would not only provide food for millions in Japan but later created a billion-dollar food empire.
According to legend, when he was interested in marketing his noodles to the United States, he observed the executives repurposing their coffee cups into makeshift ramen bowls because Americans wanted the food to be eaten on the go. He then expanded this idea and created the product we now know as Cup Noodle, demonstrating his adaptability to different markets.
What is fascinating about Ando is his creative thinking process and his six key ideas to business, which can be explored through the “Creative Thinking Boxes” in the museum. They are: discover something completely new, find hints in all sorts of places, nurture an idea, look at things from every angle, don’t just go with the status quo, and never give up. It is said that Ando used these principles to transform his empire from a one room shack that fed his community to a philosophy that inspires businesses and inventors from countless trades and industries.
Momofuku Ando wanted to create a food that is cheap, quick and easy to prepare, and can sustain human life through the most challenging of times. He believed that “The power of creation is a human being’s greatest asset; invention and discovery are what change history.” Due to Ando’s creative genius, ramen has ultimately become a unifying symbol of sustenance around the world and his principles continue to inspire ingenuity and creation.