Ramen Is Reportedly Becoming A More Popular Prison Currency Than Tobacco

If you’ve ever seen a prison documentary, or known someone that’s spent time in jail, it would probably be easy to discover that ramen noodles and cigarettes are two of the biggest commodities sought out by inmates.

Inmates can use these items to trade or pay for other items that they desire.

While inmates are fed three meals a day, prison commissary programs play a vital role in bringing extra food to inmates, from the outside. Each inmate has a commissary account that can have money added to it from friends, family, or private citizens. This is known as, “putting money on the books.”

However, commissary programs also open the doors to an unregulated bartering and trading system shared between inmates, that at times can cause serious rifts in the prison.

In a study published Monday, University of Arizona doctoral student, Michael Gibson-Light interviewed inmates to find out why ramen is becoming more popular than tobacco. In fact, Gibson-Light’s study revealed that packaged ramen noodles are quickly becoming more valuable than cigarettes, according to The Guardian.

The study found that a pack of noodles that costs less than $1.oo can be worth to almost $5.00 to inmates.

“A sweatshirt – worth $10.81 – can be bought for two packs of ramen,” each pack costs $0.59 in commissary, according to The Guardian.

In order to cover all bases, Gibson-Light interviewed more than 50 inmates at one facility — the inmates, nor the facility were identified, for security purposes.

The Guardian pointed out that ramen has held a solid reputation as a jail house cuisine. Specifically in the book, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories From Behind Bars, co-authored by former Chino prison inmate, Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez.

One inmate interviewed in Gibson-Light’s study, “I’ve seen fights over ramen. People get killed over soup.”


Gibson-Light’s study highlights the lack of regulation in prison food programs. Due to lack of funding, according to the study, correctional facilities have performed cost-cutting measures to reflect positively on budgets. However, it is the inmates who are left at the mercy of the company or firm sending the food into prisons, which is unhealthy and reduced quality.

The Guardian reported that inmates were getting less food, that was equally unhealthy and the scheduled meals, “went from receiving three hot meals a day to two hot meals and one cold lunch during the week, and only two meals for the whole day on the weekend.”

“That change was part of a cost-cutting measure,” Gibson-Light said in an interview with The Guardian.

This cost-cutting measure resulted in the malnourishment of inmates, who required more calories to get through their days. Hence, the spike in the popularity of ramen noodles between inmates.

Gibson Light also said a correctional officer at the prison he was studying told him that he [correctional officer] once examined the food in the kitchen and found a box that contained “nasty looking full chickens” that was boldly marked several times with the words “not for human consumption,” according to the Guardian.

It’s disappointing that correctional facilities feel the need to take money away from the rehabilitation of inmates, when clearly the lack of normalcy in prison diets creates a whole new problem.


9 Hilariously Snarky Amazon Reviews for The Placenta Cookbook


(*Pictured: steak, not placenta)

First, the bad news: there are people out there who eat placenta. You know, afterbirth. The bloody, 8-inch organ that eventually gets expelled from the mother’s body following delivery. They eat it in pill form. They eat it from medicine droppers on television. They even eat their wives’ placentas, chopped up in skirt steak tacos, and write about it for the food and drink section of The Guardian.

Thankfully, for every stomach-churning placenta-eater, there’s at least a few folks who realize placentophagy is just weird, okay?

While reading about placentacos, we stumbled across an actual Kindle cookbook featuring “25 Placenta Recipes — Easy and Delicious recipes for cooking with placenta!” — and were pleasantly surprised to find the art of necessary internet snark alive and well. Check out some of our favorite reviews (complete with Hannibal and hipster references), below:


Run of the Mill

“[…] The problem with placentas nowadays is that most of us don’t really know what kind of placentas we’re getting. Were the mothers grain-fed? Vegetarian? Meat eaters? Did they sneak a couple of sips of wine or a cigarette when nobody was looking? Did the moms dye their hair once or twice? Use rubber gloves when cleaning? It’s impossible to know because none of the placentas have fda oversight. Organic? Probably not.”

— Kendra


Oh Happy Day!

“Being a single guy, making a meal of a delicious placenta is somewhat of a challenge. Hospitals frown on you hanging out in the maternity wards, and many new mothers take offense that you want to eat their afterbirth. So I’ve gotten myself a beautiful Labrador Retriever female, and have been breeding her constantly. Those little placenta patties are the perfect size for lunches at the office! And the recipes in this cook book are so easy and wonderful! The only problem is getting rid of all these puppies…”

— Stefan


Does Not Come With Placenta

“I was highly disappointed to find that placenta delivery was not included. I had to deliver my own. Practically gave myself contractions from all that hard work.”

— Target Fan in Florida





“My wife, Clarice, and I are always searching for new epicurean delights to satiate our discerning palates. This excellent volume of recipes truly epitomizes the art of haute cuisine. Procuring the placenta may prove difficult, however as an M.D., I have little trouble talking my way into the maternity wards. I recommend the placenta with fava beans, paired with a nice Chianti.”

— Josh


An Absolute Essential

“With the ever-increasing price of placenta in today’s economy, it’s important to make sure that your placental investment pays off big at the dinner table, and with these easy, delicious recipes, it’s sure to. While the book seems to assume that frozen placenta will be the norm, the fact is, all of these recipes are just as easy (and even more delicious) with farm-fresh placentas. If you haven’t contacted your local organic gynecologists or artisan obstetricians, you really should make the effort to do so. Your efforts will be well-rewarded. Remember: think globally, eat afterbirth locally.

— R.A. Walker


Placenta Helper

“Thankfully, Whole Foods is now stocking ‘Placenta Helper’ which has enabled me to sample all 25 recipes without lurking around the hospital trash bins. Enjoy!”

— G.S. Cole




Only 3 Stars From Me

“The consumption of placenta is considered a delicacy, and the recipes in this book were simple and delicious.. but I could only give a 3 star rating because of my misunderstanding of the directions; the recipe does make clear that the attached umbilical cord is called a “cord” for a reason. It is quite like eating an electrical cord and is quite a challenge to digest.”

— Ohboy that was good


Baby, You’re Delicious

“[…] Unfortuneatlly I was only able to get about 4 recipes out before I ran out so I have to knock her up again. Maybe I’ll give her fertility drugs so she can have twins or octoplets and we can have more placentars!”

— T-Storm


Yum, But . . .

“But what do I do with the left-over babies? I’m thinking meatloaf or something Austrian. Maybe with a quinoa salad.”

— AKA Fred


PicThx Wiki, The Guardian