It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a stomach must be in want of breakfast.
There are few breakfasts I really love, and still fewer that I think well of in nutritional terms, especially if they’re out of a box. So many of them are all carb, all lard or no flavor. Instant noodle giant Nissin is here to change all that with an offering that I at first mistook for an April Fool’s joke — Cup Noodles Breakfast.
Available only at select Walmart locations and retailing for about $1.18, Nissin's latest limited-edition noodly terror consists of the usual curly wheat pasta, dehydrated egg and sausage tidbits and a “sweet and savory” sauce artificially flavored with maple, butter and pancake essence.
Crowing with vain optimism, Nissin calls this “the full American breakfast experience in noodle form!” I find this foolhardy idea utterly terrifying, and worse, lacking in the social graces, but I’m a professional weird food reviewer and my courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.
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Cup Noodles has a history of culinary trolling, offering previous impolitic seasonal varieties like Pumpkin Spice, but the internet wonders if this time they’ve gone too far.
"What fresh hell is this?" asked one Instagram user in response to Nissin's announcement.
So, what’s in this stuff? Although it does contain real egg and sausage, there’s no maple syrup. Instead, the third ingredient is sugar, so the carb and protein count is similar to a kids’ cereal with milk. Not the greatest nutritional punch, but quite a bit better than coffee and a doughnut.
Here it is in all its dehydrated glory. It looks blurry, but that’s because it’s coated in some kind of syrup fuzz. The instructions say to add water to the fill line and microwave for four minutes.
It looks unremarkable after sitting for a minute as instructed, but the aroma is certainly memorable; my entire house absolutely reeks of fake maple. I’ve tried to make it more presentable than its total want of propriety would suggest. What’s that you say? A basil garnish doesn’t go with maple pancakes? Of course it doesn’t! None of this goes with any of the rest of it; I’m just trying to honor the brand.
Nissin promises this cup will taste “like a warm stack of pancakes covered in melted butter and delicious maple syrup.” Well, it is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us, and Cup Noodles is not immune. I’m relieved that it’s not very saucy, but it tastes like pride and pre-chewed sausage. The maple is more of an aftertaste than I expected given the overwhelming odor. As for consistency, the egg, sausage and noodles all have the same squishy textural countenance. Al dente is not in Cup Noodles’ vocabulary.
There is a tendency in every breakfast to some particular evil — a natural defect that not even the best maple syrup can overcome — so no plate is perfect, especially if you’re in a hurry. Still, such assault on decorum should have limits. I can forgive dehydrated sausage. I can forgive too much added sugar. But squishy mouthfeel is simply bad manners. It will not do.
By all means, have traditional ramen or pasta carbonara for breakfast. You can even pour real maple syrup on it if that’s your jam. Just don’t expect me to marry it. I’ve got my pride.