Ramen is one of Japan's iconic foods, and eating noodles with the "susuru" sound of slurping is a common way of eating in the country. Some people with more Westernized table etiquette, however, might find this distressing or disturbing, and to that end Nissin, the instant ramen giant, has created a special limited-edition fork that cancels out the sound of slurping: the OTOHIKO.
Nissin has released a three-minute video introducing the OTOHIKO. It starts off with six people eating a cup of instant noodles. Three foreigners on one side begin by eating the noodles in a manner one would eat pasta in the West, with spoonful's that twirl the noodles around and otherwise make a manageable bite-sized bundle to eat. Pan over to the side with three Japanese eaters, and they pick up the noodles in long strands and quickly slurp them up, complete with slurping sound effects.
The Westerners at the table find this appalling, noodle harassment is real and it does happen from time to time with people who consider such excessively noisy eating to be impolite. For Japanese society, however, this is normal and that disconnect is where the OTOHIKO comes in.
The fork looks like an electric toothbrush, with a big fat handle that houses the battery and electronics needed to perform its function. Embedded in the handle is a directional microphone that picks up the sound of slurping. Nissin took many great sound samples of the sound of slurping in order to perfect the technology, but the fork can accurately detect the sound of slurping the instant it happens.
Once you slurp, the fork uses NFC to instantly tell the smartphone to play a sound-cancelling clip over your slurping to mask the sound. The result is a happy dining table for everyone, regardless of your table manners.
While it definitely sounds more like a staged viral marketing stunt than an actual problem, it's a nifty item to get, if a bit of a novelty. Nissin will only be producing 5,000 of them, and they cost JPY 14,800 (around Rs 8,400) each. If eating noodles with people who like a well-mannered table is your thing, then the OTOHIKO should serve you well.
Watch OTOHIKO Promotion Video
- Images from youtu.be