It's hard not to feel like we're getting scammed on the food that we purchase, especially when longtime "bargain" brands start charging us more money for less value.
Probably one of the biggest examples of this is chip manufacturers who sell us a bunch of "air" in their products. However, this "myth" has been debunked for a long time, and chances are if you empty the contents of a bag of chips out onto a scale, it will probably match the exact amount of product it states that you're purchasing right on the bag.
That said, this hasn't stopped consumers from becoming positively outraged over seeing all of that air in the bags that they buy, and this anger has moved towards other products as well. Recently, one TikToker found herself with "portion outrage" after she cracked open a Cup Noodles, and she took to the platform to share her rage.
Jordan, who posts under the handle @jordan_7103, says in the clip, "Want to know something crazy/ Watch at your own risk because you might be a little angry or confused...or shocked. Like I was. Ready? We're gonna do a little dissecting..."
She then takes a knife to the Cup Noodles she's holding in her hand. "Okay...let's open her up..." she says, and when she does, she reveals that there's a significant amount of negative space in the cup on both the top and the bottom.
Jordan is gobsmacked that Nissin, the brand that manufactures the popular instant ramen, is just plopping a brick of noodles smack dab in the middle of the Styrofoam cup where it stays, suspended, just waiting for folks to pour boiling water all over it.
It's evident from her reaction that she isn't exactly happy with this outcome and wants to know if this was the first time others were learning about the "scam" or if they knew this the entire time.
"It's not even full! It's just chilling in the middle of the cup," she said. "Was I the only one who was being lied to or you guys knew about this?"
The TikTok must have inspired a lot of controversy because the comments on Jordan's video were eventually turned off. However, the subject of the amount of noodles in the dish has been a hot topic of discussion for quite some time.
Marchuan's "Fresh Desk" forum featured a question from a concerned noodle consumer who inquired about the negative space in cups that the brand manufactures.
They asked: "Why do the noodles in the Instant Lunch cup look only half full?"
Someone on the site wrote that it's mainly to ensure that the noodles are given sufficient space to expand during the cooking process: "Occasionally during transit, the dried noodle block will settle lower in the cup. While it may appear that there may be a shortage or fewer noodles in the cup, please be assured that the full amount of product is in the container. The weight of each finished cup is individually measured during the production process and there are rejection systems in place to remove products that do not meet specifications.'
"The purpose for the extra space in the Instant Lunch cup is to allow the noodles room to expand after the hot water is added. During preparation and while the hot water is in the cup, the noodles are constantly swelling and expanding so the extra space keeps the soup contained within the cup without overflowing."
But there are certainly other reasons for this as well. It's hard to imagine that Nissin isn't accounting, at least somewhat, for the savings that their brand would accumulate by putting in a bit less in every cup they sell. That's because some 100 billion servings of instant noodles are sold every single year, and Nissin is definitely responsible for a large chunk of those sales.
As it turns out, however, "middle suspension" isn't just a means of manufacturers saving themselves some money, or to help the noodles expand when they're cooked. It's also the most effective way to ensure that the noodles themselves don't break so folks aren't slurping up a bunch of half and quarter noodles once they're ready to chow down on their preservative fix.
Consumerist writes about this middle suspension technique by citing a quote from the noodle museum (yes, it exists) in Osaka, Japan: "A method by which the noodles are tightly packed so as to remain suspended in the middle of the container was invented and called 'Middle Suspension.' By using this method, the noodles are less likely to break, and since there is a space at the bottom of the cup, hot water can circulate thoroughly from below, ensuring that the noodles soften evenly."