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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2007, 12:58 GMT
Inventor of instant noodles dies
Momofuku Ando, file photo
Momofuku Ando often ate his company's instant noodles
The inventor of instant noodles, Momofuku Ando, has died in Japan, aged 96, of a heart attack.

Mr Ando was born in Taiwan in 1910 and moved to Japan in 1933, founding Nissin Food Products Co after World War II to provide cheap food for the masses.

His most famous product, Cup Noodle, was released in 1971.

Its taste and ease of preparation - adding hot water to dried noodles in a waterproof polystyrene container - have made it popular around the world.

Mr Ando said the inspiration for his product came when he saw people lining up to buy bowls of hot ramen noodle soup at a black market stall during the food shortages after World War II.

Noodles in space

He developed his first instant noodles, Chicken Ramen, in 1958.

The product came out as Japan recovered from the ravages of World War II and began a long period of economic expansion.

It was the masterstroke of providing a waterproof polystyrene container for the noodles that made his Cup Noodle an instant success in 1971.

Nissin has led the global instant noodle industry since then, selling 85.7 billion servings every year, according to Agence France Presse.

His firm also developed a version of Cup Noodle for Japanese astronauts to eat on the space shuttle Discovery in 2005.

In 1999, Mr Ando opened a museum in Osaka devoted to instant noodles.

He retired as Nissin's chairman in 2005.

Japanese newspapers and business people have been paying tribute to Mr Ando.

"He was a self-made man who developed an epoch-making instant noodle product and spread it to all corners of the world," Akio Nomura, chairman of the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Kyodo news agency.

Mr Ando remained active until just days before his death, giving a New Year's speech to Nissin employees and having a lunch of Chicken Ramen with company executives.

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