Cup Noodles - Nissin Pop Culture

Instant Cup noodles are a fairly popular food item that pervades most societies on this planet.  They aren't the most healthy thing for you, but they can be a pretty tasty snack or quick meal.  How many quick, hot food items are literally add hot water, wait for 3 minutes, and have a meal.  I actually prefer the Nissin brand cup noodles myself as I think their noodles have a better texture than many of the other brands.  BTW, keep reading the article as some pretty cool Gundam and Star Wars Nissin commercials are at the end!
Flickr / kenleewrites
Nissin itself is a pretty big company that made net sales of over $4 billion in 2011 and they've must have sold billions of cups of noodles over the years.  You can see their annual report here and it has some nice big glossy pages of cup noodles at the beginning.  Well, Nissin has been around so long and they have been marketing for a long time so they have a pop culture element to their product which is featured in the many anime and even has a special spot in the Nissin sponsored Anime Freedom (which actually wasn't bad).

Well the history of cup noodle goes back a long way into the 1950's and there was even a manga made about its origins that was even translated into English at one point.  Project X - Nissin Cup Noodle by Tadashi Katoh and Akira Imai.  The description of the manga from Amazon pretty much gives you a capsule recap: "In a time when the Japanese food industry was struggling economically, a man named Momofuku Andou sought to turn the tide. Seeking a new type of food for a new era, he ordered the development of a "cup noodle" - a revolutionary idea for a convenient instant noodle. Overcoming public skepticism as well as doubts even from those within their own company, Andou and his staff of young developers constantly challenged convention to create this new product..." The description is a little more dramatic than I would have made it, but it was interesting reading for a history book.

Cup Noodle Commercials
The latest campaign they are running is "Boil Japan" which is kind of scary sounding, but the commercials are cool.  The first two commercials use Gundam and Star Wars themes to really good effect.  The Gundam one has a giant Gundam walking with a big kettle of boiling water for the old cup of noodle, but the second has Yoda using the force to do the same.   You can find the commercials on Youtube if you really want to have a look.  Going back further, they have space ramen and even Robocop.  If you buy cup noodle at the konbini, they will give you a pair of chopsticks too!

Gundam Boil Japan Commercial

Yoda Boil Japan Commercial

Three Minute Noodle Timer Robot

To give their ad campaigns a little extra zip, they have even branded the cup noodles as a noodle timer robot  and added model kits to the ramen.  The timer robot is pretty cool (I wish I had one).  The latest kits even had the Gundam / Zaku robots with Nissin logos on them.   See my Noodle Gunpla Post here.
A few of the older commercials are shown below with the Space Ramen, Robocop, and a cute one with some cave people and a Brontotherium.

Cave Men Ramen

Pteryodactyl Ramen

Noodles in Spaaaace!

Original Chicken Ramen Ad

Ramen Salarymen

Nissin's Super Deluxe Raoh Instant Ramen.  It is good stuff!


Finally, if you aren't cup of noodled out or have left to boil some water to make some, Nissin opened up another Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama in 2011, so you don't have to go all the way to Osaka to see it if you were just visiting Tokyo.  That means Yokohama now has the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum and the the Cup Noodle Museum as ramen destinations a half hour from Tokyo by train.

Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama Address
Cup Noodles Museum 2-3-4 Shinkou, Naka-ku, Yokohama カップヌードルミュージアム 横浜市中区新港2-3-4 +81 (0) 45 345 0918

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum Address
Japan, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, Kohoku Ward, Shinyokohama, 2丁目14−21
+81 45-471-0503

Tokyo Excess Japanese Pop Culture Page


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