If the cavemen and frogs taught us anything it is that commercials don't have to have much to do with the products they promote. Some wares lend themselves to absurdity more readily than others, particularly those whose nuances are tough to render in just a few seconds of color and sound. Like insurance. Others — such as a ubiquitous beer brand or a particular cup of instant noodles — occupy a cluttered market. The best way to stand out is not to convince the audience yours tastes best but to simply captivate — with humor, sex appeal, or surreal imagery — and sear the brand into minds like a hot iron. We see our fill of beer commercials, but the best noodle ads invariably air outside the United States, in Japan, Thailand, and Korea — places where noodles practically flow from the faucets. Turn the page for our Top 5 Noodle Commercials.
5. James Brown + Cup Noodle Miso: In 1992, one must surmise, James Brown received a very large paycheck for this. Just watching him dance and stir the broth apron-less while wearing such a dandy outfit — cobalt blue, crushed velvet, sequins, some kind of diner-booth-lacquer near the shoulders — makes us worry about his dry-cleaning bills.
4. Scheming Girls + Thai noodles: This is sort of like Spy v. Spy without the violence. One girl steals noodles and frames the cat. The other girl turns the tables by unearthing a fake lizard from the murky soup her friend has just pillaged.
3. Cheese and Pepper Aliens + Milk Seafood Noodle: Two Mighty Morphin-esque caped weirdos bless a melodramatic white lady's bowl of ramen with zaps of cheese and pepper. Nothing more needs to be said.
2. Moa Ostrich + Cup-O-Noodle: Well-known animator Kim Blanchette did a whole series of these stop-motion commercials for Japanese and English audiences, all of which depict crowds of tiny, shrieking humans chasing, running from, or otherwise interacting with gigantic beasts. Star of this ad, the flightless Moa ostrich was once a major source of meat for New Zealand's Polynesian settlers. Though extinct as of the 17th century, here it outsmarts its tormentors.
1. Marching Roe Sac Babies + Tarako: Salted fish roe is dreamy on spaghetti, especially with lots of butter and nori flaked over the top. The commercial is dreamy too, but not necessarily in a sweet way. The sacs are snuggies for Kewpie dolls. They dance right up to the girl, who is flabbergasted and somewhat disturbed. They spin on her head. The girl, like many children, may not be quite ready to try something so bold and strongly flavored as salted fish roe. In subsequent commercials though, she warms up — both to the dancing roe sac dolls and the product itself.