Hands up, all you who think or ever thought the 出前一丁 instant noodle is a Hong Kong brand.
I used to think so, honestly, although the name didn’t make any linguistic sense. Look at it, it’s semantically null! But I was too young to understand then and when it settled into my system, semantics is just no longer a factor. And the idea that it was from Hong Kong, I don’t know where it came from but the CQYD (the initials for the Chinese reading of the Kanji read as Chu Qian Yi Ding) letters printed on it never made me suspect it isn’t from Hong Kong.
Even after studying the Japanese language, I never thought about its origin. More so because by the time I started studying, CQYD noodles just wasn’t as popular as back when I was a kid and it never crossed my mind until a couple of years ago, when I saw it on sale in Japan and the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Hey! They have CQYD here too!” which was immediately followed by, “Wait a minute.” I looked hard at the text and realised the name 出前一丁 (demae iccho) actually made sense in Japanese and is absolutely meaningless in Chinese, which had been the way I read it all along.
出前 = catering or a home delivery
一丁 = a unit of an order
出前一丁 = an order of home delivery
I spoke with a close friend a while after that and he too thought CQYD was a Hong Kong brand. I felt that I must get to the bottom of this grave misunderstanding and did a Wikipedia search. I realised that Hong Kong started importing the noodles in 1969. That was probably where the Singapore retailers got it from and probably the root of my misconception that it originated there.
It then started coming to me that the mascot is wearing Japanese costume and footwear, although they can be mistaken for Chinese coolie wear and clogs. But what should’ve been the most obvious hint that I failed to notice was… you take a look and tell me.
Look at the top left corner.
It’s by Nissin!