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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Pros And Cons Of Ramen Noodles

As we could probably guess, there are many things that occur in prison that no one really wants the outside world to know about.

For example… if you’re a man who gets off on anal sex, odds are 1 in No. 2 that you will experience it when in prison. I doubt if it’s going to be as pleasurable an experience as you had hoped, but then again, it is prison.

In the U.S. prison system—according to an August 22, 2016 online article from UK’s The Guardian, thanks to cost cutbacks, prisoners don’t get served as much food as they used to, and are bartering packages of ramen noodles as prison currency rather than cigarettes or anal lube.

I’m kidding about the lube—I doubt any is used or required in prison.

But ramen noodles! Yeah! Ramen noodles—aka Japanese wheat noodles in a pack with soup mix are heated with added hot water for a delicious hot meal.

Anyone else curious about how they get hot water for this in prison? I don't see anyone having a kettle available for scalding that roomie with sleep apnea. Or are they simply using cold water? From their toilet? Man - I have no idea.

I eat mine hot, adding an egg or two to the mix as the hot water cooks the ramen et al. I might add bits of some left over dinner meat to make it even more tasty. I have options.

According to University of Arizona sociology doctoral candidate Michael Gibson-Light who interviewed nearly 60 inmates over a one-year period at one State prison—assume Arizona—he says that ramen noodle packs have surpassed tobacco as prison currency.

I don’t know if they were just screwing around with him or not, but Gibson-Light says that the prisoners spend their day-time working and exercising and thus burn a lot of calories, and the ramen noodles can provide them with the caloric kick they need.

(I have always wondered why prisons provide prisoners with free weights... that help them get bigger and more muscular... and stronger. I've used weights, and I always felt that being angry when lifting made things easier... I would think that prison's might want to find ways to not make the prisoners larger and angrier. But that's just me thinking out loud in an effort to be witty.) 

In fact, there’s a book released in 2015 called: Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories From Behind Bars, authored by former inmate Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez, who was imprisoned for 10+ years on weapons charges.

Apparently Goose was inspired to write the book after a race riot between Blacks and Latinos in the prison was ended after they all decided cook a feast together—mostly with ramen noodles. Where did the meat come from? Ramone and Curtiss?  

Anyhow, at that prison where Gibson-Light interviewed, he found that after the prison had switched its food preparations from one company to another, there was less food to go around, citing the previous menu of three hot meals a day, to the current two hot meals and a cold meal during weekdays, and only two meals per day on the weekend.

That sucks. I know it’s prison and all that, but that’s not cool.

As you may know, many prisons have been phasing out smoking privileges for inmates, and as such other means of prison currency began to be considered, such as stamps and envelopes. I’m guessing that the U.S. Mail must have it’s most steadying purchase of such materials from the prison system since the advent of e-mail.

Anyhow, food has, in many instances supplanted those other currencies, though I would suggest that adding some vegetables to the ramen noodle contents might be the best of both worlds, but I would assume one would have to be a very rich inmate.

What will a pack of ramen noodles get you—I’m assuming those smaller packs?

Well, how about one week of bunk cleaning?

Getting someone to do your laundry?

Gambling? I’ll raise that onion with a pack of beef ramen.

The prison commissary, where one can purchase certain items from one's prison paycheck—can you receive actual money from relatives? Oh... that would be a bad thing if that information got around—one can purchase a pack of ramen noodles for US $0.59. (about ¥61, as of August 30, 2016).

That seems reasonable.

However, a sweater might cost US $10.81 (¥1,114.15). Did you know you could get that same sweater via trade for two packs of ramen?That apparently was the going rate for a sweater in the Arizona prison. Really. Do you need a sweater in an Arizona prison?

How screwed up is that? If you had the money to purchase a sweater, you could have instead purchased 18.3 packs of ramen noodles from the commissary.

I’m guessing that not everyone in prison is a rocket scientist, if they are passing up that type of opportunity to get rich.

You buy up 18 packs of ramen, sell or trade them for neat things like toothpaste or toilet brush shivs, trading up constantly for a few packs of ramen plus a miniature cannon, trading the ramen and other stuff like prison blueprints for keys to the prison laundry truck and presto, not purchasing a sweater will, after a few days, provide you with a prison break!

Unless you freeze to death in your solitary confinement cell for operating your illegal black market commissary.

Better you should buy the 18 packs of ramen and trade them for boxing lessons. Or a dress. Your choice.
Of course, just like the real world, there’s also a prison black market, where inmates can purchase ramen noodle packs on credit… and failure to pay back the loan can result in a beating or worse.

Yup… people have been killed over ramen noodles. I mean it’s tasty and all that, but c’mon.

Boxing lessons. Or eat the ramen and really focus on building up your muscles. Legs for running, arms for fighting, and your gluteus maximus in case everyone who ‘likes’ you is stronger and faster than you.

Anyhow, I have a relative who’s an ex-con. A few years out of prison, the guy now legally makes more money than I do by half…. and me with my seven year's post-secondary education. I really screwed up.

Andrew "Brown Market" Joseph
PS: Should I have called this blog: “Ramen Is The New Black”?
I enjoyed that real show for a couple of years.
PPS: The image at the top is apparently the best of both worlds for someone in prison, as the bather gets ready for a hot time in the old cell tonight.  Man... he better be careful... he could clog up he prison's only hot tub.


  1. Ok that got weird....

    We do them with egg as well plus whatever is in the fridge and usually corned beef. I have taken to making my own broth though.
    Much better.

    1. Corned beef? The stuff out of a tin? I love that stuff! I agree, whatever's in the fridge goes in... but you make your own broth? Are you married? OK... that got weird.

  2. And here I was just eating them right out of the package cooked in hot water like a sucker. I never thought to add stuff to it. Now I know. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!! G.I..... Oooops. Wrong platform. Thanks Underoos. I mean Andoryu sensei.

    1. Apparently you can also bathe in them. What sort of warped mind came up with that photo shoot idea? Underoos! LOL! Never heard that one before! Underwear that's fun to wear - just not in your ramen bath!