We’ve all been annoyed by a someone slurping their soup or ramen before, but chances are you’ve never thought someone would create a product that serves as a solution for this vile sound. Well, we’re happy to announce that a Japanese instant-noodle titan Nissin has stepped up and created a noise-canceling fork designed to drown out the sounds from slurping ramen and other noodles.
The Otohiko, as it’s called, is a ramen utensil that’s designed to create a bridge between the “cultural friction” that exists among cultures that allow slurping and cultures that don’t.
To illustrate this friction, Nissin rolled out a video that features three Japanese people sitting across from a group of Westerners at a table. One of the Japanese men — a businessman wearing a suit — offers a cup of ramen to the Westerners.
The Westerners start eating the ramen quietly, enjoying their treat. The Japanese then start eating their own ramen, making slurping noises while consuming them. The Westerners find the sound off-putting — which kicks off a series of events that ultimately lead to the creation of the Otohiko fork.
Nissin says it collected vast amounts of data by recording slurping noises while people ate ramen noodles. The company then mined the data from the recordings to identify the key elements of the slurping sound.
Then came Otohiko: a fork that looks vaguely like an electric toothbrush, and is equipped with a highly directional microphone that recognizes the slurping noise. A signal is sent to the device, which immediately emits a loud, electronic noise that sounds like waves washing ashore combined with futuristic space sounds.
Nissin has started a crowdfunding campaign for the Otohiko fork in which the company will start manufacturing the product if more than 5,000 people pre-order the noise-cancelling ramen fork. It will retail for 14,800 JPY (US$130) per fork.
Although many of us in the Western world do not understand the slurping of ramen noodles, the Japanese argue that slurping is the right way to consume them as you can draw out more of the flavors in the noodles. In fact, slurping is encouraged in Japanese restaurants as it is considered the polite way of consuming noodles. Burping, however, is discouraged.