I enjoy eating Ramen noodles once in a while, and if you’re also a fan of the quick and satisfying instant meal, you know as well as I do that it’s practically impossible to fully enjoy it without, well, a lot of slurping. It’s almost as if instant noodles were created with slurping in mind – why would they be so long if they weren’t? Granted, it’s one thing to be the person doing the slurping, and quite another to be the (Ramen-less) person who has to endure said slurping. If you’re not eating solo, eating Ramen can turn into quite the uncomfortable situation; you get nasty looks, and any effort at reducing the loudness of your slurps is inefficient.

But never fear, the Otohiko fork is here! Nissin Food Products, a Japanese company that also produces Cup Noodle, came up with the idea after an increasing number of people started complaining about the slurping on social media, going so far as to call it ‘noodle harassment’. Nissin based their creation on the same concept that is used in certain public Japanese toilets, which are programmed to play an artificial flushing sound to cover up embarrassing toilet related sounds.

The Otohiko fork is programmed to recognize sounds associated with slurping. Working with a mobile app, the fork will send a signal when slurps are detected, and the user’s mobile device will emit a range of customizable sounds to mask the offensive slurping. So instead of your lunch companions hearing you slurp, you’ll essentially be treating them to an impromptu concert of random sounds. I’m not sure how loud the sounds need to be to cover slurping (and of course not all slurping sounds are created equal), but I’ fairly sure it might impede on conversation. Which gives you more time to concentrate on your Ramen noodles, so all is not lost.

The fork is huge and I’m not sure how comfortable it will be to use, and surprisingly for its intended purpose, the handle is not waterproof. It will cost approximately $130 USD (providing Nissin receives 5,000 pre-orders by mid-December) and will initially only be available in Japan where, according to custom, slurping is meant as a compliment and means that the diner is enjoying his or her meal, so I’m not sure why Nissin chose Japan as its initial market.

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