Ramen noodles are replacing cigarettes as US prison currency


The quality of the food inside America's prisons appears to be on the decline as a new study has found that prisoners are using ramen noodles as a form of currency for buying and selling goods, rather than cigarettes.

Had this been an older study, The Shawshank Redemption would've looked a whole lot different.

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A new report by Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona's school of sociology, found that due to cost-cutting in the prisons, ramen noodles have become a valuable commodity.

He said: "(Ramen) is easy to get and it's high in calories. A lot of them, they spend their days working and exercising and they don't have enough energy to do these things. From there it became more a story, why ramen in particular."

He found that the instant meal has surpassed tobacco as the most prized currency at the prison.

"One way or another, everything in prison is about money," one prisoner named Rogers said in the report. "Soup is money in here. It's sad but true."

An inmate stands facing the wall
(Felipe Dana/AP)

Gibson-Light interviewed almost 60 inmates over the course of a year at one state prison as part of a wider study on prison labour.

He did not identify the prison to protect the confidentiality of the inmates.