We’re living in a pretty wild age of stunt food, and if you haven’t noticed, brands have wholeheartedly embraced messing around with absurd flavors. Even as someone who tastes these wild PR items regularly, I can confirm I let out an audible sigh when I saw that Nissin Foods had released a limited-edition breakfast-flavored Cup Noodles product, a just-add-water meal meant to taste like a platter of pancakes, sausage, and eggs.
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Nissin is no novice when it comes to funny flavors. We tasted the brand’s seasonal pumpkin spice noodles in 2021, an experience that resulted in mixed feelings. You can probably see why I wasn’t looking forward to trying an Americana breakfast-inspired, artificially flavored ramen noodle product first thing in the morning. Oh, the things I do for my career.
Most cup-noodle-type ramen products come with broth powder and dehydrated veggie bits dumped unceremoniously on top of the dehydrated noodles. So it wasn’t a particular surprise to see the dusty powder all over the noodles, but I was slightly taken aback by the freeze-dried sausage and egg bits sitting on top.
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I felt like a goddamn astronaut holding these airy little bits of food technology in my palm. I’ve eaten camping food before and have been consistently impressed by how well freeze-dried protein rehydrates—including eggs and meat. Despite knowing that, the kid in me stared at these little breakfast nuggets with glee. I considered eating them as-is, but I didn’t want to spoil the real experience, so I reluctantly put the bits back in the cup.
After filling the cup to the fill line with tap water and microwaving for four minutes, I found that the noodles had rehydrated perfectly. (You’ve had instant ramen; you know what happens.) Yet I was stunned to find that after a little rest and a stir, the liquid had transformed not into a broth, but an actual sauce, one that clung to the noodles in an appetizing way. Hear that? That’s the sound of my entire head exploding.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering some of my favorite Korean instant noodles, Chapagetti, thicken up the same way. But seeing this happen with pancake-flavored noodles, complete with sausage and eggs, was pretty fascinating.
I’d taken a whiff of the seasoning powder prior to cooking, and I was kind of put off by its artificial smell. I usually hate artificial meat flavoring, which is why I winced at the acrid scent coming from the dehydrated version. But that odor dissipated greatly once the stuff was cooked, which was a good sign.
I cannot believe I’m saying this, but these pancake-, syrup-, egg-, and sausage-flavored instant ramen noodles are way better than they should be. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say they’re entertainingly tasty. The noodles themselves are, well, instant noodles, but the thick sauce makes them taste like a pancake breakfast.
The little sausage pellets, once rehydrated, turn into surprisingly complementary meaty bits, adding not only a nice texture but the accurate sage notes of real breakfast links. The eggs aren’t quite as good, as they sort of turn mealy and spongy upon rehydration, but they fade into the background and are mostly inoffensive. (Most of them broke up into negligible bits when I stirred the noodles together anyway.) I was so ready to crush the whole cup, but I was curious to see what my coworkers would say about Cup Noodles Breakfast, so I invited a few of them to sample it.
“These things taste like pancakes,” one coworker said after a single bite, with a surprised look.
Another colleague took a curious forkful. “You know when you’re at a diner and you accidentally get a little maple syrup on your eggs?” they said. “It tastes like that.”
It was clear everyone was enjoying the noodles. It’s not every day a new product elicits the comment, “You know who would love these? Stoners.”
Nissin suggests adding a touch of maple syrup or hot sauce to the noodles; the company included one adorable little bottle of each in our mailer. I tried some of the noodles with syrup, and then ate some more with hot sauce. I much preferred them with the maple syrup, as that boosts the pancake vibes rather than working against them. But really, the noodles are fine without any condiments at all.
Will people really turn to Cup Noodles for a sweet and savory breakfast? Since I’m Korean-American, the idea of eating instant ramen for breakfast doesn’t faze me in the slightest (and I occasionally do so). But pancakes, eggs, and sausage are the perfect meal already, just as they are, and not once in my life have I ever considered mixing that shit into ramen. Regardless, I begrudgingly admit I’m glad that some troublemaker over at Nissin’s R&D lab thought this was a funny idea, because it’s a stunt the manufacturer actually managed to pull off. I’m flabbergasted.
And no, these aren’t an April Fool’s Day joke. These noodles are available right now at select Walmart locations across the country, retailing for $1.39. For that price, they’re worth trying once, just for the fun of it. And to both stoners and non-stoners alike, here’s a tip: don’t forget the maple syrup.