At the Cupnoodles Museum, there are no rides, no arcades, no loud music, no dancing nor ice creams stands. The minimalist, subdued attractions do not electrify children with excessive stimulus. Then what can you expect for fun?
Cup Noodles, obviously. The museum sticks to a very focused theme and there are no distractions nor deviations. The main activities are to make your own Chicken Noodles and/or Cup Noodles. At the Chicken Noodles factory, you can experience the entire noodle manufacturing process that involves kneading the dough, feeding it to a cutting machine to make noodles, and then steam, season, deep fry, dry and package them.
During the noodle making, children are made aware of Ando’s creative AHA! moment, which is the process to deep fry noodles right before packaging them. Ando got the inspiration from his wife, who was deep frying tempura. By watching how slimy dough turned into crispy tempura in a pool of hot oil, he just realized that he could deep fry his noodles to drive off moisture for long shelf life. It would also make cooking almost “instant,” because all you’d have to do is pour hot water to fill the voids made in the noodles as the moisture was lost during deep frying. The right firmness would be achieved in just three minutes.
Chicken Noodles Factory: Image courtesy of Nissin Foods
Another highlight at the museum is to make your own Cup Noodles ® at “My Cupnoodles Factory.” Again there is an opportunity for them to experience Ando’s creative thinking. The Cup Noodle ®, first introduced in 1971, was conceived as an on-the-go food that combined a bowl – a very light plastic cup – and noodles together. In order to mass-produce the Cup Noodle ®, Ando first tried a system in which rows of cups were placed first, and then the chunks of noodles were thrown into them using a machine. But since the cup was very light and unstable, it was difficult to place the noodles in all the cups at once. But One day Ando had a breakthrough: what if we set the cup over the noodles, instead of putting the noodles in an upright standing cup?
And it worked perfectly. His creative thinking process ended up being called the “upside-down” idea. It’s Ando’s version of “thinking outside of the box.” Throughout the museum, the theme of “creative thinking” is repeatedly presented with the actual visual of an upside-down cup. Visitors start to absorb the concept helped by the visuals, and a catchy phrase of “thinking upside-down.”
Image courtesy of Nissin Foods
At “My Cup Noodles Factory,” you can create your own Cup Noodles ® by decorating the cup, choosing your soup flavor and the ingredients. After your cup is sealed, you can package it by yourself using special tools.
Image courtesy of Nissin Foods
You draw your own pictures on your cup, then choose your favorites ingredients from more than dozens of options, then use the “upside-down” machine to place the noodle in your cup, and seal it.
The process is straightforward and simple. There are no drum roll moments, no roller coaster-like speed that stirs the sensations. But children (and the adults alike) become very focused and enjoy making their own package. It’s surprising to find how well you can concentrate when there is no distraction such as loud music or dramatic visual aides. And Voila! Your own Cup Noodle ® is here.