The Mystery of the Nissin Cup Noodles: A Chinese Puzzle

Nothing delights a man more than the perfection of technology: A finely tuned engine, a shiny new computer, a chrome plated, case-hardened steel crescent wrench. These are the things of our dreams.

In the world of food, few products have the sparse economy of design and functionality of the aptly named "Nissin Cup Noodles." Even the name, with its subtle omission of superfluous prepositions, speaks to a product stripped and ready for action. Beneath the cardboard outer covering is a simple styrofoam cup filled with dried noodles waiting to be turned into a succulent dining delight.

The recipe can be reduced to the ethereal simplicity of a haiku:
Add boiling water to the cup
Wait three minutes
But nothing comes easy. As a counterpoint to the oriental simplicity of the design is a devious puzzle. How the heck do you get the cellophane wrapper off? Look at it. Examine it everywhere there seems to be no seam into which a finger can be introduced. No little string like they have in band aids to pull and open it up. Have we in the West gotten too soft, expecting perforated seams and little cuts in the wrapper to start the tearing process? None of that luxury here. The cup sits there taunting you to open it.

Of course you could resort to the use of some dainty feminine tool, a paring knife, a grapefruit fork or (God forbid) a pair of manicure scissors. But that would take time. And time is of the essence in the world of Man Food. How can we tear this baby open? Gotta get those noodles.

You ponder on it a while. Turn that enigma around and around. Look at it. Think about it. Puzzle over it.

Hopefully you will figure out the ancient secret of the Nissan Cup Noodles. If you don't, meet me out by the car and I will pop the hood and impart to you the knowledge in the only venue in which a man will take advice. Leaning on the fender of a car peering into the engine cavity.

Give up? OK here's the secret. Look at the top. You will see a seam in the cellophane going across from one side to the other. Perpendicular t this seam is a second seam which stretches from one side just to the first seam. Follow this second seam down the side of the cup and you will notice that it is a flap bent to the right. You can just lift this flap and get a purchase on it with your fingers. From there it is an easy matter to rip the cellophane and take it off to reach the rich lode of noodles waiting inside.

After you peel back the cover and add water you will notice that the cover will arch back and refuse to settle back on the top of the cup. It has to be held down by something flat, something that overlaps the edges and doesn't drop into the cup...heavy enough to keep it down, but light enough not to crush the cup. TV guide is just right, but you can certainly improvise here.