OSAKA – Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Food Products Co. and inventor of instant ramen, died of heart failure Friday evening at a hospital in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, his family said. He was 96.
Born on March 5, 1910, in Taiwan, Ando initially ran clothing companies in Taipei and Osaka while he was a student at Ritsumeikan University. In 1948, he founded the precursor to Nissin and in 1958 unveiled Chicken Ramen, the world’s first instant noodle product.
Ando was inspired to develop the instant noodle after coming upon a long line of people on a cold night shortly after World War II. They were waiting to buy freshly made ramen at a black market food stall.
The experience convinced him that “peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat,” according to Nissin.
In 1971, Nissin introduced the Cup Noodle featuring instant ramen in a waterproof plastic foam container. Dubbed the “Ramen King,” Ando is credited with expanding Nissin into the No. 1 company in the industry and was well-known for his dedication to his work.
Kei Kizugawa, head of the journal Kamigata Geino, said Ando was a great food product inventor whose accomplishments equaled that of Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. “I believe generation after generation will talk about Chicken Ramen,” Kizugawa said. “I don’t think there will ever be an instant noodle product that beats the taste of Chicken Ramen.”
In 1999, Ando opened the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, after installing his second son, Koki, as president of the company.
Ando retired from the chairman’s post in June 2005 to serve as founder-chairman.
In July 2005, Nissin introduced a vacuum packed instant noodle specially designed for Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to eat during a mission aboard the U.S. space shuttle Discovery.
Showcasing his Space Ram noodles, Ando said, “I’m happy I’ve realized my dream that noodles can go into space.”