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And not just any 16-year-old ramen, but 16-year old ramen that was supposed to have been recalled.

Yamaguchi Prefecture, located at the Western end of Japan’s main island of Honshu, has plenty of tasty local delicacies that are worth sampling, such as lotus root and blowfish. For some reason, though, our intrepid reporter Mr. Sato instead decided to dine on such things as fish flavored-ice cream and decade-and-a-half-old ramen.

Granted, instant ramen is generally designed to have a long shelf life, but it’s usually measured in months, not years. Still, way back in 2000, Cup Noodle maker Nissin offered a special version of its best-selling ramen called the Cup Noodle Time Can, which the company boasted would keep for 10 years.

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However, trouble arose before the half-way point of that impressive claimed preservability. In 2004, it was determined that the sealing used for the canisters was defective, and all units of Cup Noodle Time Can were voluntarily recalled. As such, it’s almost impossible to find a can for sale, but Mr. Sato stumbled across an unopened specimen at Mono House, a second-hand store in Yamaguchi that primarily specializes in used car parts and accessories, and also has a video game arcade attached to it.

▼ What, you mean not everyone buys their groceries in places like this?

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With Time Cans so hard to come by, Mr. Sato was at first reluctant to open up this collector’s item, which he had shelled out 2,900 yen (US$26) for.

▼ The bottom of the can, with its stamped “best by” date of September 2, 2010.

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Still, he couldn’t suppress his curiosity to find out what it looked like on the inside, plus how it tasted. Who knows, maybe instant ramen is like fine wine, in that it gets more delicious as it ages?

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The Time Can is equipped with a handy pulltab, so Mr. Sato popped the top. Surprisingly, inside he found what looks like a standard package of Cup Noodles, plus a card with an image from one of the brand’s circa-2000 TV ads.

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The cup didn’t look to be in such bad shape, given that it’d been sitting around for 16 years waiting for Mr. Sato to answer his destiny by finding it. But it looks like they weren’t kidding when they said the Time Can sealing technique had been inadequate, as the outside of the cup had a few patches of discoloration or, quite possibly, mold.

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But thankfully the lid had stayed secured, meaning the contents shouldn’t have suffered that much exposure to the outside elements. While waiting for his pot of water to boil, Mr. Sato peeled back the lid.

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Inside, the dried shrimp, egg, and other toppings were a paler shade than you’ll find in a fresh cup of instant ramen. Still, the visuals weren’t too bad. The real problem was the smell.

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Initially, Mr. Sato had a hard time putting the sensation into words, aside from “Really, really, really stinky.” Eventually, though, he managed to explain that it bears some resemblance to surströmming, the Swedish delicacy of fermented fish.

▼ It smelled so bad that Mr. Sato couldn’t resist the temptation to share the pain with coworker P.K. Sanjun.

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▼ For Sanjun’s reaction, skip to 4:10 mark.

By this time, the water was boiling, so Mr. Sato poured it into the cup.

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Sadly, heating the 16-year-old ramen only enhanced its smell, as it wafted up towards his nose in vaporized form as he waited the three minutes for the noodles to cook. During this time, Mr. Sato ruminated on the fact that Cup Noodle Time Can is made without synthetic preservatives, and tried to decide whether that was a good or bad thing.

Once the time was up, he peeled off the cover, revealing shrimp and eggs that were now disturbingly similar in color.

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▼ The noodles looked OK, though.

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And then it was time for the moment of truth. Mr. Sato plucked a mouthful of noodles from the smelly cauldron and began slurping them up.

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It was an impressive display of willpower, as Mr. Sato’s mind proved strong enough to overcome the desperate protests of his olfactory senses. However, the rest of his body was not so resolute.

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Almost immediately after putting the noodles in his mouth, Mr. Sato’s throat and tongue exercised their veto power, as his gag reflex triggered and he involuntarily spat the noodles back out.

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It seems the human body doesn’t accept 16-year-old ramen as “food,” which is probably a smart call on its part. Shockingly, the sensation was even more disgusting than Mr. Sato had expected, and so much so that he decided to investigate the culinary crime scene by taking a closer look at the cup that held the foul and aborted meal.

And that’s when he noticed something that made the whole experience even grosser.

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Mold, on the inside of the cup.

Even worse, when he poured the contents out into a bowl, he discovered that the mold stretched all the way down to the bottom layers of the container’s inside face.

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In other words, Mr. Sato hadn’t just been trying to eat old ramen, or even old, recalled ramen, but old, recalled ramen that was also rotten.

Needless to say, unless you’ve got access to a time machine, we don’t recommend eating Cup Noodles Time Can, especially when there are so many more appealing, less dangerous varieties of instant noodles lining store shelves all across Japan.

Images ©RocketNews24
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