Cup Noodle... for over half a century, Nissin's iconic instant ramen in a styrofoam cup has served as the choice snack (and often meal) of millions from Finland to the Philippines, Mexico to Malaysia, and Japan to the good ol' US of A.
Wait, did I say "instant"? That's not exactly right: once you've added hot water to the cup and replaced the lid, the diner has to wait approximately 3 minutes for the ramen noodles and dehydrated flavorings to, well, re-hydrate.
The "approximately" part is important - not enough cooking and your meal is overly crunchy and lacking in flavor. Too much and you're looking at a soggy mess that slips through your chopsticks.
The creative minds at H-Concept (designer Akira Mabuchi, in particular) have come up with an answer to the Instant Ramen Time Conundrum, and it's Cupmen. Yes, Cupmen - tiny plastic figurines molded to shapes ideal for clinging to the top of your Cup Noodle cup. Cupmen not only identify your Cup Noodle in a crowd, they hold down the lid ensuring the contents cook evenly... but wait, that's not all!
Now there's no need to sit drooling over your Cup Noodle with a stopwatch. Instead, watch your Cupmen figurine. When his hands start to change color, you know your ramen is ready to eat. Remove your Cupmen man and as he cools down, his color will return to normal. Use it again and again, meal after meal.
Cupmen come in two series. Cupmen "Hold On" figures are available in Green, Orange and Pink. Cupmen2 "Relax" figures come in Rose, Moss Green and Blue. Each figurine, sold online at Rakuten, costs 840 yen or about $9.25 - a sum that will buy you more than a few varieties of Cup Ramen. (via TokyoMango)