The Inspirational Origins of Instant Ramen

Momofuku Ando once said, “Peace will come when people have food.” He was an innovator, convict, and the creator of instant ramen.

Ben Kageyama
5 min readJul 26, 2020

People love instant ramen. It’s consumed by struggling college students, traded as the currency of choice in US prisons, and even eaten in space stations. But before all this, it was an idea. And the person we have to credit for its creation is Momofuku Ando.

Immigration, Prison, and Failure

Ando was born in Taiwan and moved to Japan at the age of 23, during the beginning of the Pacific wars. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to numerous, albeit unsuccessful business ventures. He sold salt, magic-lantern projectors, and prefabricated houses.

Ando even opened a school. And according to a piece by the Guardian, this led to his conviction in 1948 for charges of tax evasion. He explained that he was giving scholarships to children, which was a form of tax evasion in Japan at the time. Ando spent two years in prison for this.

After he got out, a credit union he was partly running went bust. This failed venture led to the loss of all his assets except for his house. Yet despite all this, Ando (now a middle-aged man riddled with more than his…