Momofuku Ando, Japanese inventor and businessman, Died at 96


Momofuku Ando died on January 5, 2007 at the age of 96; he was a Japanese inventor and businessman who founded Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd.

Born Go Pek-Hok on March 5, 1910, into a wealthy Taiwanese family in Kagi-chō (modern-day Chiayi), Japanese-era Taiwan, and raised by his grandparents within the city walls of Tainan-chō (modern-day Tainan) following the deaths of his parents.

He was convicted of tax evasion in 1948 and served two years in jail.

In his biography, Ando said he had provided scholarships for students, which at the time was a form of tax evasion.

After he lost his company due to a chain reaction bankruptcy, Ando founded what was to become Nissin in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan, starting off as a small family-run company producing salt.

With Japan still suffering from a shortage of food in the post-war era, the Ministry of Health tried to encourage people to eat bread made from wheat flour that was supplied by the United States.

Ando wondered why bread was recommended instead of noodles, which were more familiar to the Japanese.

The Ministry’s response was that noodle companies were too small and unstable to satisfy supply needs, so Ando decided to develop the production of noodles by himself.

The experience convinced him that “Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat.”

It was Ando’s passion and dedication that Doodler Sophie Diao wanted to get across in her artwork.

Ando, a lifelong entrepreneur who started his first business at age 22, found the inspiration to his greatest success while walking through the streets of post-World War II Japan: People were waiting for hours in long lines, just for a comforting bowl of ramen.

Realizing hunger was the most pressing issue facing Japan; he felt a desire to help the people of his country.

Ando’s labor of love has had a lasting impact on people from all around the world, but he never let success stop him from working to improve instant ramen.

In 1971, he introduced the world to Cup Noodles.

Not stopping there, Ando then turned his focus toward inventing instant noodles that could be eaten in space.

His rationale? “People have to eat no matter where they go, even outer space.” He was in his 90s when he debuted “Space Ram.”

Starting with the chicken-broth noodles in cellophane bags that Mr. Ando first concocted in a shack behind his house in Ikeda, Japan, 49 years ago, Nissin now produces 16 flavours of what it calls Top Ramen and Cup Noodles.

Besides six varieties of chicken, they included beef, shrimp, vegetable and spicy chili.

Ordinary unflavoured noodles were not the solution; Mr. Ando insisted that his noodles be tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare.

The problem was flavouring them without making them mushy.

Using a second-hand noodle-making machine and a large wok, Mr. Ando sprinkled soup on the noodles with a watering can, then kneaded and loosened them by hand after letting them partly dry.

“This allowed the noodles to soak up the soup on the outer layer,” he wrote. “I then dried the noodles so they would keep longer and could be easily prepared with boiling water.”