If you had to pick the Official Food of Backpackers—the beloved staple that almost all of us consume at some point during our trail travels—it would probably be gorp. But a close second would be ramen (also the official food of college students). Invented by Japan’s Nissin Foods in 1958, instant noodles are tasty, fast, lightweight, calorie-rich, and cheap (ten packets for $1 is not atypical). In fact, when it comes to sheer number of calories per dollar, only a stick of butter beats them.
The only people who might love ramen more than hikers are the Japanese: In a 2000 poll by the Fuji Research Institute, citizens ranked instant noodles as the No. 1 20th-century Japanese invention—ahead of karaoke (No. 2) and personal stereos (No. 3). Some brands do have questionable ingredients, like the flavoring MSG (it can cause wicked migraines in some people), but groceries now sell all-natural versions, too. But why confine ramen just to dinner? Here are two sweet breakfast and dessert recipes to broaden its culinary horizons.