Instant noodles are precooked dried noodles fused with oil, which can be prepared for consumption simply by adding hot water and a flavor packet.
Instant noodles were invented in 1958 by Momofuku Ando, who went on to found the Nissin company and launch the world's first instant noodle product Chikin Ramen (chicken-flavored instant ramen). Another milestone was reached in 1971 when Nissin introduced the Cup Noodle, instant noodles in a waterproof styrofoam container that could be used to cook the noodles.
According to a Japanese poll in the year 2000, instant noodles were the most important Japanese invention of the century. (Karaoke came second, with the compact disc only coming in fifth.) As of 2002, approximately 55 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten worldwide every year.