The most mundane object I’ve come across that’s earned not only a spot in a museum but throughout the entire museum is Cup Noodle (or Cup O’ Noodles, which was its official name in the United States when I ate it as a kid). That’s right. The just-add-water cylinder of fried starchy stuff is glorified throughout the Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Japan. And what’s even more puzzling is I plan to visit it!
You could argue that the Instant Ramen Museum is on par with the World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta. But really it’s not. The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company and one of the top-ranked global brands.
Okay, then what about a museum dedicated to another item sold at 99-cents stores — like the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia, located just a few suburbs south of San Francisco? Well, that, too, hovers in higher esteem because Pez is both a candy and a toy — double nostalgia points! Cup Noodle, on the other hand, frequently fills the stomachs of people who can’t afford to cook or can’t figure out how to cook. It’s often eaten during periods that people would rather forget.
So what’s the attraction for someone like me, who will be visiting Osaka for the first time and can only spare half a day to explore the city during my business trip? It’s the creative way that the Cup Noodle story comes to life through the museum:
I’ll step inside the replicated ramen “research shack,” where anecdotes of instant-noodle inspiration come to life; be dazzled inside the cylindrical “Cup Noodle Drama Theater;” walk through the “Instant Noodle Tunnel” that’s plastered with an explosion of product varieties; and make my own shrink-wrapped and ready-to-eat Cup Noodle souvenir.
Do you know of another museum dedicated to telling an extraordinary story about an ordinary object? Let me know so I can visit it!
Have you read or do you know of Andy Raskin’s very funny book, The Ramen King and I? http://www.amazon.com/Ramen-King-Inventor-Instant-Noodles/dp/1592404448. You should check it out if you haven’t. It’s funny and moving.
Thanks for the tip! I haven’t heard about it. Will check it out!