Why ramen is so valuable in prison

  • Published on Nov 14, 2018
  • Instant ramen noodles have become like cash among inmates in the US.
    Become a member of the Vox Video Lab! bit.ly/video-lab
    Subscribe to our channel! goo.gl/0bsAjO
    Cash is illegal in prisons. And that means everything from tuna to stamps to cigarettes have their own unique value in a trade and barter market.
    But ramen has quickly taken over as the most in demand products the prison system offers.
    Watch this video to see how ramen took over prison economies and why it’s the default item for trade among inmates.
    The Goods by Vox explains what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
    Watch the rest of The Goods videos on RUclip: bit.ly/2PvjHCB
    Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out www.vox.com.
    Watch our full video catalog: goo.gl/IZONyE
    Follow Vox on Facebook: goo.gl/U2g06o
    Or Twitter: goo.gl/XFrZ5H

Comments • 7 754

  • Vox
    Vox  3 months ago +379

    We launched the Video Lab last month, and it's going strong! If you'd like behind the scenes peeks of our work, access to your favorite creators, and more perks like a little badge that levels up over time, learn more about the Lab at bit.ly/vox-video-lab-join. Becoming a member is the best way to support our journalism and to help us make our videos even better.
    Thanks for watching!

    • Iwan says
      Iwan says 2 months ago

      Sponsored by NISSIN.

    • Valentino Lau
      Valentino Lau 2 months ago

      Won't joined here unless if there was VOX Video Lab outside United States!

    • Trumpist
      Trumpist 3 months ago +1


  • Ktoto Zachemto
    Ktoto Zachemto Hour ago +1

    I heard that in Russian prisons candies and tea are very valuable

  • Scott Davidson
    Scott Davidson Hour ago

    B/C it is cheap.

  • helena b.
    helena b. Hour ago

    so jake peralta was right

  • TheHellSpawn000
    TheHellSpawn000 2 hours ago

    I use to trade my ramen for pepsi in prison. We only had 1L bottles of pepsi in com, so id give 1 pack for 2 bottles and i did drawings for 1 bottle... Im addicted to pepsi... Dont judge me... i just turned 18 when i went in, 4 months in prison 9 months house arrest after my prison term and 11 months probation after my house arrest term. But my 4th day in i was a nervous wreck, was drawing, a guy asked if id draw him something, said hed give me a pop so i said ok, he gave me a pepsi and i felt like i wasnt even in prison. Next morning he had my drawing on his left calf, and then when i found out about the ramen currency i asked my dad to get me 2 boxes, 56 ramen each now and then. My last day there i split my ramen up between the 4 guys that looked after me there so they each got 18 packs. And its not just the ramen that has value, some guys will strip the flavor packets out of them just to make other stuff edible, some guys usually the really big dudes will want the ramen for the carbs then they buy canned scollops from com so they can keep lifting.

  • Robin Aleksander
    Robin Aleksander 2 hours ago

    Funny how us prisons can use up to 2 dollars per inmate per meal and my school in Finland uses 72 cents per student per meal

  • Topper
    Topper 2 hours ago

    Yo, they got microwaves?

  • KillitDead05
    KillitDead05 2 hours ago

    Wouldn't this be against the law to deprive prisoners of food?
    wait wait wait US government are not committing crimes?
    this is technically neglect.
    government needs to go to jail? 🤔

    • Not Available
      Not Available 44 minutes ago

      Most prisons are not government run but are private institutions......

  • RYP Gaming
    RYP Gaming 3 hours ago

    I’ve only just seen all this ramen popping up, it’s literally instant noodles more or less? Lmao Americans are always years behind everyone.

  • J and J Football
    J and J Football 4 hours ago

    wtf is ramen?!

  • Airsoft Brogan
    Airsoft Brogan 4 hours ago

    I don’t think Gustavo knows what literally mean because I don’t think ramen is gold

  • velazquez armouries
    velazquez armouries 5 hours ago

    ill trade you a few likes for some beef flavour maruchans

  • Jrm Her
    Jrm Her 6 hours ago

    I watched Orange is the new black so I know all about this..LoL

  • Hayden Lau
    Hayden Lau 7 hours ago

    America, where prison is a business and business is a prison

  • Paul D
    Paul D 8 hours ago

    Feed them Ramen instead. Toss in some Spam on Saturday.

  • nico byrne
    nico byrne 9 hours ago

    tell you whats value in jail drugs and tobbaco i know somebody who sold subetex in jail £100 each and used to sell 100 a week over 5 years he paid £2 each for them thats capitalism

  • Chris Pacheco
    Chris Pacheco 12 hours ago

    Not only is the ramen valuable, but those little seasoning packets in them are a God send, due to the fact that ALL food in jail is completely devoid of flavor, everything on your tray typically tastes the same, flavorless, as if the ppl preparing it don't believe in using salt, those seasoning packets make meals a bit more edible, and are valuable too by themselves

  • dizzybynature
    dizzybynature 14 hours ago

    my girlfriend wonders why i always save several ramen packages..
    ill just show her this video..

  • Random Gamer21
    Random Gamer21 19 hours ago +5

    *Gets stabbed*
    Me:why did you stab me?
    Guy:you had a 10 ramen bounty

  • Billy Bob
    Billy Bob 21 hour ago

    This is sad. Also, Vox sucks.

  • ultra bruce
    ultra bruce 22 hours ago

    American prison meal cost is still higher than British Army Breakfast and Dinner meals.

  • AngelaLavie
    AngelaLavie Day ago

    Wait I used to go to a inner city elementary school & the company that gave us our food was Aramark. (I only know this bc they used to give us little toys with that name on it)

  • eddyk
    eddyk Day ago

    Ramen and cans of Mackerel.
    Give a prisoner and tin of fish, a packet of noodles and an egg and he can make a 3 course dinner out of it.

  • eddyk
    eddyk Day ago

    Ramen and cans of Mackerel.
    Give a prisoner and tin of fish, a packet of noodles and an egg and he can make a 3 course dinner out of it.

  • Николай Патъров

    It can fix things

  • Lurp Jr
    Lurp Jr Day ago

    Nah that's a Soup lol

  • Arthur Heidt
    Arthur Heidt Day ago +2

    you should mentioned better that prison food isnt enough because the prisoners want to be on steroids all the time and carry 150% extra muscle around to life their gangster lifestyle

  • secret yawn
    secret yawn Day ago

    Instead of cutting cost, cut punishment

  • Don't sub. It is not allowed.

    Hey, can I order a bowl of prison money.

  • Brian Salomon
    Brian Salomon 2 days ago

    What's a "penitent ee ary" ?

  • Timber P
    Timber P 2 days ago

    Don't put all the seasoning in, powdered heart attack

  • Timber P
    Timber P 2 days ago


  • Sarp Alpan
    Sarp Alpan 2 days ago

    I wonder why razors are 5th most popular item.

  • chris bevins
    chris bevins 2 days ago

    Coffee is the most traded item!

  • David Cadieu
    David Cadieu 3 days ago

    I spent a month in jail for doing something dumb one time, and while it was relatively easy there the one thing that was difficult was the food. I easily lost 15 lb in 1 month. The food they give you is basically enough to keep you from starving, not from being hungry. The one thing this video fails to mention is how much sweets like honey buns are also a currency. But ramen noodles are absolutely the foundation of basically every food group in any kind of Correctional Facility. It is basically a mild form of torture.

  • nick adz
    nick adz 4 days ago

    Ahh good ol Aramark

  • rob w
    rob w 4 days ago

    I was locked up in ohio. Aramark is the WORST. That food is total trash.

  • RainyShiba ツ
    RainyShiba ツ 4 days ago

    Brooklyn 99?

  • Calitree Sweet
    Calitree Sweet 4 days ago +2

    This gives me the extreme desire to eat ramen . *BYE* 💦

    MCVE III 4 days ago

    I bet when people sell these in prison they say "sachet...you stay"

  • Gucci Mane La Flare 1017 Brick Squad

    Same thing in Canadian prison. Everybody want's burritos. Noodles and cheetos are a best seller.

  • Blurry Seaven
    Blurry Seaven 5 days ago

    Are you saying college kids are inmates

  • It’s ya boy
    It’s ya boy 5 days ago +1

    Brooklyn 99?

  • kami megurine
    kami megurine 5 days ago

    do you think thats a low income food?LOL in México almost 60-70% of the ppl eat with less than $2. no wonder why all of them want to be in a us jail

  • Chilly Willy 88
    Chilly Willy 88 5 days ago

    Do Americans call all 2 minute noodles ramen? ie mi goreng,maggi noodles,cupnoodle, samyang? or is it specifically japanese branded ones?

  • Eric Anderson
    Eric Anderson 6 days ago

    Scratchy as hell to smuggle, though.

  • Gytis Bačanskis
    Gytis Bačanskis 6 days ago

    realy? someone made a book about ramen?

  • 7Sin0City2
    7Sin0City2 6 days ago

    2 bag minimum if you want in on this spread.

    • Chris Pacheco
      Chris Pacheco 11 hours ago

      Lol, or a bag of pork rinds & a pickle

  • 1203927
    1203927 7 days ago

    Hey hey, yall got the ramen?

  • AinttOoghettO
    AinttOoghettO 8 days ago

    Have you killed for 20 ramens.

  • j kelley
    j kelley 8 days ago

    Brotha be out in the yard slingin beef and chicken powder packets like crack

  • Nazario G.
    Nazario G. 8 days ago +1

    Raegonomics, replaced by ramenomics but in prison nothing trickles down!!!

  • acreppinstp
    acreppinstp 10 days ago

    Ramen and cheetos are the most important thing in prison. you need both to make prison chalupa.

  • IAM8
    IAM8 10 days ago +1

    Aka crackhead soup

  • Straight Talk
    Straight Talk 11 days ago

    Know that prison is the social experiment we will live one day

    HOMER DRUMPF 11 days ago

    All of you are laughing now but this could happen in the future as cash for the world

  • Richer p Sickert.
    Richer p Sickert. 11 days ago

    Them whole chabang chips are crazy too. Wish they sold them on the streets.

  • kelly shea
    kelly shea 11 days ago

    Makes sense. Only need hot water and 3 minutes to prepare it

  • Smokin all day Err day

    If u have food from commissary that's the only thing u control in life when u can eat

  • 死神開発者
    死神開発者 12 days ago +3

    Because they are "Weeabos" and "Otakus" , I'm so proud of them !

  • Rashad Savage
    Rashad Savage 12 days ago

    “Instant ramen” I never heard anyone call it that lol. You know that white narrator girl never had any before

  • flipnlu
    flipnlu 12 days ago +1

    Making that SPREAD with a meat pack....lol

  • Nerdboy 816
    Nerdboy 816 12 days ago

    I see all of you people in the comments tracking jokes making fun of the jail system you wouldn't last 3 days and they're the reason why Ramen is so valuable is because for one the food is crapping for two you don't get enough of it

  • who there?
    who there? 12 days ago +1

    you can rent a man's butt hole for ramen noodles

  • eemia ey
    eemia ey 13 days ago

    Indomie is way cheaper than that lmao

  • Izaak Fewton
    Izaak Fewton 13 days ago

    United States is such a disgusting and hypocritical place...yak...

    MOST HATED312 13 days ago +2

    Ilove my ramen soups specially the spreads

    • MOST HATED312
      MOST HATED312 10 hours ago

      +Chris Pacheco ibeen there bro struggles sucks not to get canteen but i had a Hussle I would catch scorpions and sepl them for eight soups haha

    • Chris Pacheco
      Chris Pacheco 11 hours ago +1

      I made a spread when I got out with all the fixings like they did in county cuz I never got "store" and I would just watch people who did while I ate my county food, halfway through eating it I just felt stupid threw it out and went out and got my self a real asada burrito lol

  • Andrew Mcdonald
    Andrew Mcdonald 13 days ago +1

    I can tell you why it ducking tastes good

  • Nashieboy 2019
    Nashieboy 2019 13 days ago

    Anything can be currency as long as everyone uses them, that’s how paper money was made

  • Drew Rycerz
    Drew Rycerz 14 days ago +2

    Keepin it real, Ramen isn't the most valuable thing in prison. Protein is. "Meat picks" or protein powder.

  • stevenp25100
    stevenp25100 14 days ago +1

    Those meals looked fine. Complete and balanced. Sorry if you thought steak and lobster was on the menu

  • SnortOfTheSnorth
    SnortOfTheSnorth 14 days ago

    Perhaps ramen should be taken from prisoners. Prison shouldn't be fun.

  • mclaclan
    mclaclan 14 days ago

    the meals they had there looked a whole hell of a lot better than what we got in highschool

  • matt correa
    matt correa 14 days ago

    Spread time

  • guardian X
    guardian X 14 days ago


  • iKollector
    iKollector 14 days ago

    Momofuku. The man who created Raman, originally made instant ramen as a solution to world hunger. Would he be happy to know it can save starving prisoners if he was still around today?

  • Jose Angel Rivera C
    Jose Angel Rivera C 14 days ago

    I remember people old people saying that hard labor on a prison like working on the field will take lots of people off the prisons and also benefit general public why don't they have spaces for them to work field taking pent-up energy and bringing food for them and general public allow them also options to see what they can learn in case they want to leave and not come back to prison but that's just me, they will have some security problem or some kind of excuse.

  • Russian bot 1013
    Russian bot 1013 14 days ago

    Because it's used as currency. Rubes.

  • Peter Maclean
    Peter Maclean 14 days ago

    It's literally ramen noodles. Brah.

  • yusuf elmi
    yusuf elmi 14 days ago

    We use ramen to gamble

  • Lara Matias
    Lara Matias 15 days ago

    I go to cal state east bay university and I live on campus. Part of the contract is to pay for a meal plan and guess who’s our food vendor... ARAMARK! The food is disgusting and with the money we have to pay is not worth it. The college system and prison system maaan all the systems are connected. It’s crazy. America.

  • Isaac Estrada
    Isaac Estrada 15 days ago

    I need a shank . give me 5 Ramen and its a deal . ok . lol

  • Fat Chungus
    Fat Chungus 15 days ago

    Why *Rawmen* is so valuable in prison

  • Karen The Divorced Mom

    I literally eat 5 packs at once at times

  • Andres Tapia
    Andres Tapia 15 days ago

    Fool actin up.

  • Bill Bailey
    Bill Bailey 15 days ago

    Ramen is the cheapest an most filling thing you can get in prison. That is the only reason it has value. I got a $200 tatt for 4 ramens. Value $1.25. Got another $185 tatt for a bag of coffee $3.00.

    • Bill Bailey
      Bill Bailey 15 days ago

      Also not having food growing up thaught me to eat whats in front of me. This came in handy when i was locked up. Sometimes the food was so bad you just took a deep breath ate your food in 1 min an just pray you didnt get sick or have to go to bathroom before you got back to your cell. Its been over 20 yrs since i was in an still feel like throwing up when i think about the food or think about what was in an or done to the food.

  • Richard Roberts
    Richard Roberts 15 days ago

    It's not 'literally' gold. Please lookup the definition of literally and you will understand.

  • adalid5
    adalid5 15 days ago

    Let them starve

  • JESUS Pumagualli
    JESUS Pumagualli 15 days ago

    Prison is a place for your punishment not a hotel luxury thing of course your going to have to starve 🤷🏽‍♂️

    • Titan
      Titan 15 days ago

      Of course the American speaks with his flawed logic
      Prisons should be a place for rehabilitation , not to breed more dangerous criminals
      But eh , i doubt i can convince an ignorant 'murican

  • ice grillin
    ice grillin 15 days ago


  • The Black Kaiser
    The Black Kaiser 15 days ago

    I wonder if the inventor of Ramen saw how big it would blow up in prison

  • Scottie Lewis
    Scottie Lewis 16 days ago

    This is all fine and great but not everyone in prison has money to buy commissary. Not everyone in prison has family or friends to put money on their books.

  • Colombia Jr10
    Colombia Jr10 16 days ago +2

    Prisoner: Shows up with supreme hoodie
    Me: Ill give you 5 packs of ramen
    Prisoner: DEAL

  • Vinyls With Flair
    Vinyls With Flair 16 days ago


  • Jonathan Martens
    Jonathan Martens 16 days ago

    😂 Prisoners should get nothing more than a cup of rice.

  • Brian Alvarez
    Brian Alvarez 16 days ago

    Imma go sell ramen in this prisons lol

  • Mister Bateman
    Mister Bateman 16 days ago

    Gustavo "goose" Alvarez:
    Ramen soup is literally gold!
    Breh u literally a Mongoloid

  • Bear2die4
    Bear2die4 16 days ago +1

    What about Cup Noodles?👀

  • Wulf Fearless
    Wulf Fearless 16 days ago

    You described ramen in the worst way

  • johnny d
    johnny d 16 days ago

    I hate ramen and it used to be around 12 cents now its 4 for a dollar if your lucky