Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup is a phenomenon in the United States. I’ve seen it prepared in a myriad of ways over the years, some quite lavish, some very pedestrian. What remains is that people usually have a reaction when they see them. They’re low priced, easy to make, and very accessible. I hope to reveal some things you didn’t know about them in this guide; their history, their variety, and their future. There’s lots of stuff below so check it all out!
The Definitive Guide To Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup
A Special Review
To start things off, I thought I’d present the product you’re probably most familiar with, Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Chicken Flavor. If items are sold in a store, there’s a very good chance you’ll find it. To celebrate their 45th anniversary, they’ve produced it with special packaging – so here we go.
Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup 45th Anniversary Chicken Flavor – United States
Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Chicken Flavor in it’s festive trappings.
Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Contains chicken. To prepare, boil noodle block in 2 cups water for three minutes. Take off heat and add sachet contents. Finally, stir for one minute and enjoy!
The noodle block.
The dry sachet of soup base seasoning.
Finished (click to enlarge). Added scallion, chicken, marinated egg, and sesame seed. The noodle has a plump and bouncy character, yet is quite soft. The broth has a very comfort food chicken taste to it All in all, it’s basic – but done well. It’s an accessible flavor for most. I liked it – familiar. 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. UPC bar code 041789002113.
An alternative view of the finished product.
I conducted an interview with Maruchan Marketing about the company’s history among other things – here’s some pertinent info –
Maruchan’s story began in 1953 when a young Japanese visionary named Kazuo Mori started a small, frozen fish distributorship in Tokyo. His business soon grew into a thriving food company known as Toyo Suisan. In 1961, the company branched out of the fish storage and distribution business and entered instant ramen noodles. He dreamed of producing a convenient, high-quality, affordable noodle product for all the people of the world to enjoy.
After gaining popularity in Japan, Toyo Suisan looked to challenge the new market in the United States, and in 1977, Maruchan, Inc. started manufacturing ramen and smiles from Irvine, CA.
California was an early adopter of Asian foods so there was already market for ramen products. The West Coast was also a good location for receiving ingredients and shipping out product. Southern California provided a good business environment for us. We had a good local source of employees, a great, safe community into which our families could move, and great support from the city.
Maruchan’s first products in the United States were Chicken, Pork, and Beef Instant Lunch and Ramen. The Cup and Pillow Pack packages were already marketed in Japan when manufacturing started in California. Billions of packages are manufactured yearly and that number continues to increase.
In celebration of the 45th anniversary, we are releasing limited edition packaging of Instant Noodles and Pillow Packs in the Chicken Flavor. The Instant Noodle Cups are currently available everywhere Maruchan products are sold.
Where Is Maruchan Manufactured?
There are four manufacturing facilities in the United States. Two in California’s South Orange County, one near Richmond, Virginia and one near San Antonio, Texas.
What Does The Name ‘Maruchan’ Mean?
Maruchan had this to say about their name – ‘Maurchan is a portmanteau of “maru,” which means “round,” and “chan,” which is a suffix used to express endearment.’
There are quite a few variants of this range including Chicken, Roast Chicken, Creamy Chicken, Picante Chicken, Beef, Roast Beef, Shrimp, Lime Chili Shrimp, Pork, Chili, Soy Sauce (formerly Oriental), as well as 25% lower sodium (previously 35% less) Chicken and Beef.
Discontinued Varieties / Not Listed On Official Website
Where’s The Tomato?
Over the years, I’ve gotten many, many emails asking about the discontinued Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Tomato Flavor. It apparently was popular enough for someone to start a Change.org campaign in hopes of catching attention from Maruchan to bring it back. I asked Maruchan about it specifically –
I hear from people who remember a Tomato flavor Maruchan product. Over the years, they’ve asked me where to get it. Was there indeed a tomato flavor product, and if so, any plans on re-introducing it?
There was a Tomato Flavor Ramen and we have witnessed extra-ordinary devotion from our fans dedicated to reviving this flavor and their voices have not gone unnoticed or unheard. Although, there are no immediate plans to produce it, fans may watch for a re-emergence of several nostalgic flavors that would be available for a limited time only.
Where’d My Noodles Go?
During the pandemic, many products were hard to find as manufacturers, distributors, and merchandisers were really pushed to the limits. Instant noodles were a hot seller, and for a time were scarce in many stores, Walmart for one. I can’t even fathom how many questions and comments I received about this – people wanted to know when their beloved Maruchan would return, and when a product was introduced with similar flavors but not similar taste, it got pretty ugly. Fortunately, things have mostly returned to normal and Maruchan can be found everywhere again – I learned that the brand loyalty to this range is fierce during that time.
Institutional / Corrections Varieties
Maruchan produces varieties which are distributed by Keefe Group. These products are not available to the general product and are packaged differently, often having clear packaging windows for securely offering food products, especially to prisons, in order to keep items not allowed to enter these facilities obfuscated by the packaging. This is known widely as ‘prison ramen’ and has gained a certain following in the United States. People create different recipes such as the ‘Prison Ramen Burrito‘ for example. Different ingredients are added such as cheese puffs, cheese spread, and meat sticks, to name a few.
It should be noted that upon contacting the distributor of these products, I received a very definitive ‘no’ to requests for samples to review. They’re interesting, however it seems about the only way to get them usually would be to do something to land you in jail/prison. I did see the Texas Beef on eBay once though, and some others were sent by a man who worked in the correction industry as a guard. If you’re looking for these varieties, don’t bother Keefe and don’t expect to find them at stores.
The Cheetos Connection
I’ve seen so many images of people using Cheetos (Flamin’ Hot in particular) in instant noodles over the years. I have a theory on this. In Japan, Tanuki Soba/Udon is popular. This is a variety that includes tempura bits which are crisp. While Cheetos are made from corn and tempura batter from wheat flour, they impart a somewhat common effect when introduced to broth. While the flavor profiles are very different as well, the concept is very logical; I would say that it seems Americans have taken a different approach to something common in Japan with this addition.
Packaging Changes: The Many Faces Of Maruchan Chicken Flavor
I’ve reviewed Maruchan Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup plenty of times over the years – here are some of the different ways it’s looked in the past 20+ years.
What Can You Do With Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup?
Maruchan Ramen Pizza
This is a pair of pizzas created using Maruchan Ramen noodles as well as seasoning bases in the sauce. Full recipe and finished prod
Maruchan Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup Ice Cream
After your ramen pizza, I think a nice dessert is in order. This is ice cream made with bits of the cooked noodle and the seasoning sachet. Yeah I know – sounds crazy – but watch what happens when you combine these unlikely foodstuffs!
Maruchan Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup Bread
My friend the esteemed author Matthew Bellah and I were talking one day. He had recently purchased a bread machine at a thrift store and conversation moved to what kinds of bread to make. Ramen bread came up. Well, he did it and sent me a loaf – and that was what lit my fire to attempt such oddities myself after I got my own bread machine. Here’s the loaf he made – check it out!
Maruchan Texas Beef Ramen Noodle Soup Burrito
I can say that I’ve never been to prison, however I did get my hands on this special variety. Inmates are resourceful and have come up with many different recipes, including making burritos from instant noodles. Here is a walkthrough. It should be noted that the Picante Beef variety is said to be identical to Texas Beef.
People across the country generally have a reaction to instant noodles. Some like me, are fascinated – they can transmit the flavors of exotic places; they are in my opinion the finest diplomats of food culture ever created – the noodle is a canvas for painting in different ways. For others, instant noodles remind them of times on a tight budget. Others of youth and academia. Regardless, they’re here to stay and very easy to access, shelf stable, and these especially are very inexpensive. I’d like to extend a big thank you to the Maruchan Marketing folks for answering my myriad questions. As always, enjoy your noodles!