How Momofuku Ando became wealthy with Cup Noodles

On this day, March 5 in the year 1910, the man who revolutionized the food world through his invention of instant ramen and cup noodles was born in Chiayi, Taiwan. His name was Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Food Products, Ltd.

Momofuku Ando
Momofuku Ando (Photo Credit:

Momofuku was the son of a wealthy landlord and store owner. In 1933, he was sent to Japan and enrolled at Ritsumeikan University, taking up economics. While being a student, he engaged in trading clothes. After the war, he set up a company selling salt. Later, he became the manager of a credit association which failed. Then, he found himself in prison for tax evasion which he claimed to be just a misunderstanding on his scholarship program. When he regained his freedom, he sold prefabricated houses.

One evening in 1957 as he was walking along a road in Osaka, Japan, Momofuku saw a long line of men and women waiting for their turn to buy a bowl of noodles from a boiling vat. An idea immediately popped up in his mind. He rushed home that evening and started experimenting on the kind of instant noodle that would soon become the staple of students and other people in a rush.

In 1958, Momofuku brought to market the fruit of his day and night experiment: noodles in cellophane bags. Though it was at first very expensive, the Japanese soon came to love his creation. Very soon, he was literally laughing his way to the bank as his noodle-loving customers bought 13 million bags on the first 12 months that the product went on sale. He established Nissin Food Products to make and market chicken ramen. In 1963, the company went public. In 1971, another innovation hit the market: ramen in a Styrofoam cup. In the following years, he set up overseas factories and sales offices.

Momofuku died of heart failure in 2007 at the age of 96. He had three children with his wife Masako. In fiscal year ending March, 2021, the company had revenues of over $4.6 billion and profits of $372 million.



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