Thinking back to the first hot meal you ever made entirely on your own, there's an outsized chance that it was Cup Noodles—if you can press a couple buttons on a microwave, you can make dinner. And the best part? No dishes! Throw that shit straight in the garbage (who cares if Styrofoam might literally last forever?).
But for the first time in recent memory, change is coming to the iconic foam cup instant ramen: Cup Noodles is getting a recipe change in the American market.
You know what they're saying: Today's consumer cares more about things like "health" and "chemicals" than he or she used to, and to get with the times, Cup Noodles is switching up its formula to cut out added MSG and replace artificial flavoring with natural ingredients. The most popular flavors of Cup Noodles will also cut sodium content 20 percent; every flavor will get at least a 15 percent cut.
"About a year ago we started asking consumers what, if anything, we could do to improve our Cup Noodles recipe," a representative of Nissin Foods USA, the manufacturer of Cup Noodles, told MUNCHIES. "We talked to over 800 consumers and their overwhelming response was, 'We love Cup Noodles, but reducing sodium and removing added MSG and artificial flavors would make it even better.' It's been quite a journey since then—we went through many rounds to get is just right."
Nissin assures concerned noodle-lovers that in blind taste tests, people liked the new version as much as the old. And don't worry, the new version still contains tiny cubes of dehydrated mystery meat.
"We sampled 450 consumers and the vast majority said they either liked it the same as the original, or better," the Nissin representative told MUNCHIES.
Cup Noodles' mystery meat is in fact pork, but most people refer to it as mystery meat—even Nissin. This weekend, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the creation of instant ramen by Momofuku Ando, the Japanese market released a special limited ramen called—wait for it—Cup Noodle Big Mystery Meat Festival. The Big Mystery Meat Festival contains ten times the amount of dehydrated pork cubes as your regular Cup Noodles. When the Big Mystery Meat Festival flavor went on sale on September 12, demand was so high that Nissin had to stop shipments of the processed-pork-heavy ramen until October to give their factories time to catch up to demand.
The new Cup Noodles are now on shelves, and you'll hear more about them in the fall when Cup Noodles launches its first-ever national advertising campaign in the US. But while healthier Cup Noodles are great and all, the Japanese people have spoken, and they want more mystery meat.