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Australian Prisoners Love Indomie So Much That It's Costing the Government a Half Million Dollars

That's a whole lot of instant noodles.
Photo by kattebelletje/ Flickr CC License

Indomie is so popular that it might as well be a national addiction. But no one in Indonesia—or Nigeria for that matter—is buying more instant noodles than the Australian government right now.

The state government of Victoria spends more than $500,000 AUD for a two-year supply of Indomie, according to a report by Nine News Melbourne. What's the government doing with all those packets of Indomie? Stocking the shelves of their prisons, where inmates are allowed to purchase instant noodles, and other snacks, with money earned from doing work behind bars.


“It's an essential part of ensuring people want to work and learn how to budget properly and it's part of the mechanism of management of prisons and jails,” Brett Collins, of the advocacy organization Prisoners Action Group told Nine News Melbourne.

Instant noodles have long occupied a central space in prison culture, with inmates in the United States valuing these sodium-packed snacks so much that, today, they're basically a form of in-prison currency—replacing cigarettes as a preferred method of payment.

But not everyone is down with Australian inmates' love of the most Indonesian of instant noodles. Or the approximately $1 million AUD spent on candy and other sweets.

"Daniel Andrews is supposed to be running out prisons," said John Pesutto, the state's Shadow Attorney General, in reference to the man in charge of the state's prisons system.

"He's not Willy Wonka running a chocolate factory. A million dollars on candy? What are they handing out there Gobstoppers and schnozberries?" he said, referring to a fictional candy found in the Willy Wonka movie, which shows that, for some reason, Pesutto really knows his Willy Wonka.

But is Indomie really a luxury food? Australians weren't so convinced.

Others, argued that prisoners should be getting gruel instead, because, I guess we're all living in some Dickensian novel right now.

In the end, Indomie is like $.050 AUD a pack, making them one of the cheapest foods available, far cheaper than, say, this bougie oatmeal, which is basically rich peoples' gruel. And if opposition leaders like Pesutto think Indonesian instant noodles are too expensive, then they're really going to freak over our luxury prison cells.