A Japan devastated by war faced a food shortage after WWII, so in order to promote balanced nutrition their government recommended citizens eat wheat flour bread which was given to them by The States. One man, Momofuko Ando, wondered why the government suggested bread instead of the nation’s traditional starch: noodles.
To address supply and shelf-life issues Momofuko mastered a technique of flash-frying the noodles to remove all their moisture. Despite his inspiration instant noodles(or Ramen as we call it state-side) was priced as a luxury item. Prices didn’t drop until the 1970s when the product was re-branded as an on-the-go lunch by packaging them inside of foam cups.
Further reading: Momofuko Ando’s Wikipedia entry
Instant Ramen’s back-story is full of irony: it was conceived as an alternative to cheap bread but the end-product was priced 7x higher, Momofuko was inspired by the government’s nutrition guides but when his product is prepared and eaten as advertised it isn’t healthy. However, that doesn’t mean we cannot improve the off-the-shelf product to make it both taste better and be nutritious.
Traditionally Ramen is made using freshly hand-pulled, vegetables, thinly sliced meats so when its placed into the piping hot soup base it will cook it the bowl, an egg that’s soft-boiled as the noodles cook, etc. etc. Which is what the pictures on the cover are trying to haerken back to.
By adding those same ingredients you see on the packaging it will not only taste better but it will also be healthier. Just keep in mind, cooking frozen veggies or fresh mushrooms results in a fair bit of water, and if you’re not careful it will dilute the flavor of your meal.
“In 2005 [his company] created a vacuum-packed portion of instant noodles for the Japanese astronaut aboard the Discovery space shuttle. In 2006 his company earned $131 million in profits. He died in 2007 in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan.
Source: Momofuku Ando Biography
Worth a listen: In Praise of Ramen, and Its Inventor