Solving Slurping Controversy

Bruce Rutledge

Bruce is the editor-in-chief based in Seatle

Cup Noodle maker solves Slurping CONTROVERSY

Making noise while slurping and chewing is pretty much an etiquette no-no wherever you go. Of course, there’s an exception to every rule. Anyone who’s ever had ramen or soba or udon in Japan knows the noodle slurpers can get pretty loud. In fact, it’s said that the louder the slurps, the better the noodles. But we Japanese realize that those slurping sounds are a turn off to some people.

As Tokyo braces for the 2020 Olympics and the many guests from abroad, what if noodle-slurping becomes an international controversy? We’ve been thinking deeply about this problem and getting anxious about a solution.

Right in the nick of time, a solution has appeared: a gadget called Otohiko is here to save the day.

As you can see by the photo, Otohiko is a fork with an unnaturally large handle. Inside that handle is a high-efficiency microphone. As soon as it senses that you are raising the fork and about to slurp some noodles, it sends a signal via Near Field Communication technology to an app on your smartphone. The smartphone app picks up the signal and immediately makes noises that camouflage your slurps. You can enjoy your noodles Japan-style without offending your international guests!

The company behind this handy gadget is none other than the same one that has been feeding US college students for years: Cup Noodle maker Nissin Foods.

Nissin not only manufactures noodles, but solves the problems those delicious noodles gave rise to with the handy Otohiko. It makes those unsettling slurping sounds disappear behind a wall of white noise.

Technicians gathered recordings of a whole lot of slurping sounds, and mined the data to come up with the perfect camouflage sounds to cover up the slurps. The app works for ramen, udon, soba and any other noodle you want to slurp.

Otohiko goes for a suggested retail price of 14,800 yen, or about $130. Nobody said solving international controversies would be cheap.

Campaign ended. The product is not available.


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