Ramen Is the Hot New Prison Currency, Apparently

"Soup is money in here."

by Matthew James-Wilson
Aug 22 2016, 4:50pm

Image via Flickr users Jobs For Felons Hub and Francis Storr

According to a recent study from the University of Arizona, packets of ramen noodles are being traded like cigarettes as currency in prisons, the Guardian reports.

The study's researcher, Michael Gibson-Light, was studying prison labor at a state penitentiary and noticed that budget cuts were causing a decline in the prison cafeteria food quality. The gross food led to an apparent increase in food smuggling, Gibson-Light noticed, and the demand for ramen noodles skyrocketed.

"[A packet of ramen] is easy to get and it's high in calories," Gibson-Light told the Guardian. "A lot of them, they spend their days working and exercising and they don't have enough energy to do these things. From there it became more a story, why ramen in particular."

He found that prisoners were trading the $0.59 ramen packets for all kinds of valuable goods. Five cigarettes could go for one packet, while a $10 sweatshirt might be traded for two packs of ramen. He also found that the new currency trend stuck nationwide after consulting similar investigations from prisons around the country.

It makes sense that ramen would become the new commodity du jour in prisons, like cigarettes and stamps and mackerel have been, since the noodles have been a foundation of gourmet prison cooking for decades.

"One way or another, everything in prison is about money," said one of the inmates in Gibson-Light's report. "Soup is money in here. It's sad but true."

Sounds like Yung Chef would basically run shit in prison.

Read: The Art of Gourmet Cooking in Prison