Four men out of five, when asked if they cook, will say no but add almost immediately, "Except instant noodles." (Well, they don't actually say "instant noodles"; they mention the brand that's become the generic name for instant noodles. It comes in a yellow packet with a red logo, as if you didn't already know!)
When Momofuku Ando invented "Chicken Ramen" in 1957 in Japan, he envisaged a time when they would be enjoyed by everyone around the world. Latest global figures show that almost 92 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten every year. The industry is worth US$25bil (S$34.8 billion) based on retail sales, with China and Indonesia sharing the bulk of sales. In Malaysia, 1.3 million packets of instant noodles are sold every day.
Ando was inspired to invent the instant noodle while walking through the streets of post-World War II Japan and saw long queues of people just waiting a bowl of ramen. His mission to feed the hungry lives on today as midnight food-seekers and skint students continue to make instant noodles a popular stomach filler.
Instant noodles, ramen, mee segera, Mee chap (place brand name here) - whatever you call them, it's hard to imagine anyone never having tried them at least once in their life.
Here are stories from our own writers who have slurped their fill of instant noodles.
I went to boarding school and instant noodles saved me and my schoolmates from going to bed hungry many times. Back then, we didn't have hot water dispensers or electric kettles in every dorm. There was a water cooler on the ground floor, though, which meant trying to rehydrate our mee in cold water. It took longer than three minutes and the noodles remained crunchy, but they were still the best thing a starving schoolgirl could hope for. - Jane F. Ragavan
When I was a child, my mother used to make the most delicious Maggi Mee for my father. The only extra ingredient she put in was an egg; however, the secret was when you put the egg in and how long you let it cook. I was determined to master it. It took me some years, but I finally got her formula down pat. - Mumtaj Begum
Growing up in the 1970s, Cintan mee was such a treat! Father used to buy a box of 30 every month. Either we had tiny appetites or the portions were bigger those days, but each packet was shared by two siblings. My silly brother would have it plain, without any seasoning, as he disliked the spring onions in it. It was still tasty enough for him! - Tan Cheng Li
Studying abroad, I would take the bus to a Chinese grocer miles away to buy a big box of Mamee instant noodles. They only sold one brand and one flavour - "Asli". Eating it later and being reminded of home was worth the journey and the hassle. - Eric Ian Chan
One of my most memorable moments involving instant noodles was the time when my husband (then boyfriend) and I were backpacking in New Zealand in 2010. We were there for a month and the incident in question took place towards the tail end of our trip.
For most of the journey, we ate on a tight budget and made do with simple things like sandwiches, apples, canned food, etc. However, we missed Asian food a lot and on one occasion, decided to cook instant noodles.
We bought packets of Korean instant noodles and added some extra local supermarket ingredients such as carrots and sausages to the mix. We cooked it in the late evening and sat eating it outside our hostel in the cold autumn weather. It was the best thing ever. Haha. You never realise how much you miss simple Asian food like instant noodles till it's a rarity in your diet. - Susanna Khoo