kohikari: a stack of books with the words "read more / ...be stupid less" (brain food)
[personal profile] kohikari
I, like many a starving college student/otaku/anyone on a budget or unwilling to wait more than 3 minutes (plus boiling water) to make food, have eaten a lot of cup ramen.  I'm a Maruchan brand loyalist, mostly because Top Ramen tastes fucking bizarre, and am most fond of their popular neon-orange-packaged Chicken flavor (although I did have a brief fling with the neon pink Shrimp flavor...those tiny freeze-dried crustaceans kind of creeped me out).  I also have been known to make a decent stir-fry with packaged ramen (using half a flavor packet to a whole package of noodles, draining the water before adding the flavoring, and including a healthy chunk of 100% real motherfucking butter, bitches).  You might say that I'm almost an instant ramen aficionado.

This, however, I did not see coming.

About a month ago I was grocery shopping and came across a little blue package in the cup ramen section.  Maruchan Instant Lunch, it proclaimed in that familiar font.  Cheddar Cheese Flavor.  It appeared that the instant-ramen manufacturers had grown jealous of the instant-mac'n'cheese industry and decided to stage a coup.  (I have no idea how long this product has been on the market, as there is no "NEW!" label anywhere on the packaging; for all I know, this post is twenty years too late.  Oh well.)

Skipping the buying, the carrying home, the opening, and the cooking, as that is exactly the same as every other cup ramen in existence:  At first glance, I noticed that the noodles were wider (at least twice the width of regular cup ramen noodles).  I also noticed the glaring yellow-orange color of instant cheese powder clumping together.  Well, the clumping is universal to instant mac'n'cheese products, and the presumably thicker sauce would require a sturdier noodle to hold it, right?  Actually, the sauce is more of a broth, really, exactly as thin and watery as a regular cup ramen.  This is more cheesy noodle soup than cheesy noodles, which I really should've expected from a company that makes cups of instant noodle soup.  (I wasn't brave enough to actually drink any of the broth, but it probably tasted like what was on the noodles, so.)

The flavor is what's really interesting.  You could call it alfredoesque, if you were desperate, but the thing is, I knew I'd tasted this flavor before.  It brought up vague ideas of some point in my youth (because I'm so old), of some sort of savory cheese-flavored snack food, maybe a chip.  It took me a while to figure out (largely because I kept getting distracted by the mental images and memories associated with the flavor, of eating "cheesy" snack mix--Munchies brand, maybe?--out of a wooden bowl at some fancy hotel swimming pool club or something that a friend of mine had a membership at, after showering the chlorine away at one of her birthday parties, and the convolutedness of this sentence isn't anywhere near matching that of my brain, but it'll do); it wasn't until I was walking the empty cup over to the trash that it hit me.

This stuff tastes like fucking Nacho Cheesier Doritos.  Like, they made a soup--a noodle soup--out of Nacho Cheesier Doritos.  The hell.

Of course, the ingredients list explains everything:


regular chicken flavorcheddar cheese flavor
enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, assorted vitamins/minerals)enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, assorted vitamins/minerals)
vegetable oil (canola/cottonseed/palm)vegetable oil (canola/cottonseed/palm)
TBHQ (preservative)TBHQ (preservative)
saltsalt
dehydrated vegetables (carrot, corn, green peas, onion, garlic, celery stalk)dehydrated "blend of cheese" ("granular and blue" [milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes])
maltodextrin (sweetener)whey
LESS THAN 2% OF:LESS THAN 2% OF:
monosodium glutamate (MSG)sugar
sugarmonosodium glutamate (MSG)
hydrolyzed corn/wheat/soy proteinpartially hydrogenated soybean oil
powdered cooked chickencorn syrup solids
chicken fatsodium caseinate (milk derivative)
spices (celery seed)modified food starch
yeast extractmaltodextrin (sweetener)
potassium carbonate (part of 'kansui', affecting ramen noodle texture and color)powdered cooked chicken
sodium (mono/hexameta/tripoly) phosphate (meat seasoning)hydrolyzed corn/wheat/soy protein
soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt)dehydrated vegetables (onion, garlic, parsley)
sodium carbonate (part of 'kansui', affecting ramen noodle texture and color)yeast extract
turmeric (common spice that doubles as yellow food coloring)natural and artificial flavors
silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)
disodium inosinate (like MSG, is basically distilled 'savory'/'umami' flavor, like how sodium chloride or potassium chloride are 'salty' and sugar or other sweeteners are 'sweet' and citric acid or malic acid is 'sour', etc. etc. etc.)xanthan gum
disodium guanylate (like MSG, is basically distilled 'savory'/'umami' flavor, like how sodium chloride or potassium chloride are 'salty' and sugar or other sweeteners are 'sweet' and citric acid or malic acid is 'sour', etc. etc. etc.)potassium carbonate (part of 'kansui', affecting ramen noodle texture and color)
"chicken broth"sodium (mono/hexameta/tripoly) phosphate (meat seasoning)
lactosesoy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt)
soya lecithinsodium carbonate (part of 'kansui', affecting ramen noodle texture and color)
 "spices"
 yellow color #6
 yellow color #5
 disodium inosinate (like MSG, is basically distilled 'savory'/'umami' flavor, like how sodium chloride or potassium chloride are 'salty' and sugar or other sweeteners are 'sweet' and citric acid or malic acid is 'sour', etc. etc. etc.)
 disodium guanylate (like MSG, is basically distilled 'savory'/'umami' flavor, like how sodium chloride or potassium chloride are 'salty' and sugar or other sweeteners are 'sweet' and citric acid or malic acid is 'sour', etc. etc. etc.)
 "chicken broth"
 soya lecithin
 turmeric (common spice that doubles as yellow food coloring)
  
(the differences are italicised)


Basically, they took regular 'chicken ramen' broth powder and added cheese sauce powder.  Not very original, but, being lazy myself, I give this one an 'E' for the '(Total Lack of) Effort'.  Probably would not buy again, but if I had to eat it again, I wouldn't bitch about it too much.


[[ETA:  Googled 'maruchan cheddar,' and the first two links agree with me.  Well, sort of--one person loved it and one hated it, and the reviews are three and a half years apart, and one of the reviewers appears to have had carrots in her cup, but they agree on the flavor!

Taken (sic) ramen noodles, add 1 teaspoon of cheese powder. The teaspoon is the small one, FYI. Add water. Let sit for 3 minutes. Then add an old sock. Let sit for 2 more minutes. There you go.  (source)

"It's this electric orange color that absolutely does not occur in nature," she said. "The 'cheese' powder is clumpy even after you put water on it, and I'm pretty sure it's nothing but MSG. It is sooo good."  [...]  Nuked and simmering under its paper lid, Maruchan Cheddar smells like boiled Doritos  (source)

*feels vindicated*]]


(Also, I am twenty-one as of yesterday at 02:36 AM.  Woo.

^o.o^

vo.ov

>o.o>

<o.o<

Okay, enough old-school text!emoticon dancing, my attention span can't handle much more.)
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