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Are College Students Still Eating Ramen?

In the eyes of the public, the most infamous addiction college students have is with a pack of dry curly noodles and a chicken flavor packet. 

The company responsible for the country’s obsession with instant ramen noodles, Maruchan, Inc., began manufacturing in America in 1977, according to its website. Since the popularization of instant ramen in the United States, it has become a staple — perhaps the only staple besides beer and naps — for the typical American college student. The ramen-diet-in-college trope seems like it will never die. Is that because college kids are still relying on it for cheap meals, or are students finally changing up what they are eating?

Photos courtesy of @maruchan_inc on IG.

“It’s a tired cliché that poor college students subsist on ramen,” Markham Heid of Vice said, “But it’s probably still true: Instant ramen is cheap, it’s tasty, and if you buy the kind in Styrofoam cups, you don’t even need a bowl or utensils to enjoy a hot meal. (Though “meal” is probably too generous a word.)” Heid goes on to talk about its convenience in a dorm setting– put it in the microwave and voila, you have a warm, comforting soup in under three minutes with hardly any mess to clean up when you are done. 

Gif courtesy of Giphy

Nowadays, however, colleges around the country are implementing meal plans. Students pay in advance for their meals each semester, and they get to choose between dining hall meals and other restaurants the institution offers. Meal plans are certainly more expensive than an instant noodle diet, but in some cases, it seems much more efficient than having to purchase groceries every week as a freshman in a dorm with no car. 

In 2012, Hack College reported that eating 13-cent-packs of instant ramen three times a day every day for an entire year would only cost $142.65. This is perhaps the best answer to why students have the ramen reputation. Students who work during their schooling, however, are not having to rely on 13-cent meals anymore. According to the College of St. Scholastica, 70 to 80 percent of college students actively worked while in college in 2018. 40 percent of those undergraduates were working at least 30-hour workweeks. 

Photo courtesy of @originaltopramen on IG.

It is hard to tell if this is getting students to eat healthier, however. The Google results for “college students eating habits” are quite grim. The internet says either students are eating like garbage, or they are just not eating much at all. The collective information out there for 2019 suggests that whether or not students are eating Oodles-of-Noodles every day is not the question anymore. Nutritionists are concerned that students are not eating fruits and vegetables at all.

Will the cycle of poor eating in college continue forever? Stress, money, time and convenience all play into students’ diets, and until those factors change, college kids may continue to slurp on instant noodles until the end of time.  

Gif courtesy of Giphy

Olivia Gianettino is a freshman honors journalism student at West Virginia University. Besides writing, she loves playing the banjo, making crafts and doing yoga. She is a year-round Halloween enthusiast and sports a pair of yellow Crocs everywhere she goes.
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