Ramen Has A Surprising Place In Space History

When you think of ramen, the mind normally goes in one of two directions. You might think of the fancier ramen that you would find at a trendy restaurant like Marufuku Ramen in New York City or that you try to whip up at home like using James Beard Award-nominated chef Todd Richards' recipe for noodles with collard greens and pork. But it is more than likely that you think of the instant ramen that is a staple in the diets of many college students because of its affordable price. Either way, ramen has a history as rich as its broth.

While associated with Japanese cuisine, ramen noodles had their origins in China before making their way to Japan, per First We FeastInstant ramen came onto the market in 1958. Britannica explains that it was invented by Momofuku Ando after seeing food shortages in Japan after World War II. He came up with a way of flavoring noodles with chicken soup and frying them. Then boiling water could be added to the dry noodles for an easy and nutritious dish. Thus, instant noodles were born.

Liftoff for ramen

But Momofuku Ando's noodle inventions didn't stop there or even on Earth. At 94 years old, according to his company, Nissin, Ando came up with "Space Ram" in 2005. He made changes to his instant ramen to accommodate it being eaten in space. In 2005, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi became the first astronaut to dine on instant noodles in space. Four years later, Noguchi took them with him to the International Space Station.

To accommodate the conditions in space, the ramen doesn't require boiling water, Sora News 24 says. It can be made with water that is 158 degrees F, which is what the astronauts have access to. The noodles and the broth are also thicker, so there's less to splash around in their weightless environment. Nissin also now makes shrimp and curry flavors in addition to the chicken. So next time you are enjoying a bowl of ramen, just be thankful you have gravity working in your favor.