Sad Day For Cup Noodle Lovers

Momofuku Ando, Nissin food products chairman and popularly known as maker of instant noodles, eats sample of noodles for astronauts called "Space Ram" during a press conference at the company's Instant Noodle Museum in Osaka, July 27, 2005.
This story was written by CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen, in Tokyo.

Let's try the name first: Momofuku Ando.

Ring a bell?

No. Okay, let's try again.

Remember those meals of "Cup Noodles" – that was his doing. His nickname was "Mr. Noodle" and he invented dried noodles. Dried noodles that even went into space.

Which brings us to Osaka, Japan, where his funeral this week had a space theme, because his noodles made it into orbit. He made a special kind called "Space Ram" that could be vacuum packed and eaten in zero gravity.

Japan is proud of Mr. Noodle, who died recently at 96. Some 6,500 people came to the funeral in Osaka, including former prime ministers, and friends.

They remembered him for creating something unique, now eaten around the world, and out of it.

It was a pretty amazing feat selling dried noodles in a country that prides itself on serving fresh noodles at thousands upon thousands of small restaurants. Noodles served with vegetables or pork.

If you have visited Japan, you've almost certainly ducked into a noodle shop, where they often take pride in making their noodles from scratch.

But a hurried life meant success for a meal designed to be eaten on the run. Success, and the Nissin food brand, which does sales over $2 billion ever year — one cup at a time.

So we'll remember the late nights studying at college when we needed food… or lunch at the office when there wasn't time to get out… or maybe just a snack while watching TV. A little hot water and presto… a meal in a cup.

Next time that cup of noodles comes in handy to satisfy the appetite, it's easy to remember the man who deserves the thanks; Mr. Noodle.

Now the name Momofuku Ando rings a bell, right?

Barry Petersen

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.