Buldak Ramen
Buldak Ramen can raise your heartbeat in no time.

If the 2014 Buldak Ramen challenge were to make a comeback today, Denmark might just sit this one out. Recently, Denmark's food authorities took a bold step by recalling Buldak ramen noodles produced by South Korean company Samyang. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration pointed to excessive capsaicin, a chilli pepper extract, in three of Samyang's fiery favourites: Buldak 3x Spicy & Hot Chicken, 2x Spicy & Hot Chicken, and Hot Chicken Stew.

Health Concerns Over High Capsaicin Levels

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration expressed concerns that the high capsaicin content in these noodles could potentially cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and a burning sensation if consumed in large amounts. They advised Danish consumers who purchased the affected products to discard or return them to the store for a refund to prevent any adverse health effects.

Samyang Defends Its Products

Samyang has staunchly defended the quality of its products. In a statement to the BBC, the company clarified that the recall was due to the extreme spiciness rather than any defect in product quality. "We understand that the Danish food authority recalled the products, not because of a problem in their quality but because they were too spicy," Samyang stated. The company added that this is the first time their products have been recalled for such a reason despite being sold globally.

Public Reaction and Social Media Buzz

The recall has ignited significant reactions on social media, with opinions sharply divided. Some users have shared personal anecdotes about the intense heat of Samyang's noodles. "My wife (Thai) loves spicy food, but even she could barely handle the 3x Spicy from Samyang," commented one Reddit user. On the other hand, some criticised the recall, arguing that the product packaging clearly warns consumers about the spiciness. "That's dumb; the packaging clearly warns that it may be spicy," another user noted.

The recall has also spurred humorous commentary online, with many poking fun at Denmark's reputed preference for milder foods. One person joked, "I had a friend from Denmark who thought tasteless breaded shrimp with a little bit of ground pepper was too spicy." Another quipped, "From fearless Vikings to 'must protect people from spicy noodle,' the North has truly fallen."

The Origins and Popularity of Buldak Ramen

The origins of Buldak ramen date back to April 2012. It was inspired by a spicy chicken stir-fry dish observed by Kim Jung-soo, a member of Samyang Foods' sales department, during a restaurant lunch in 2010. Kim noticed the dish left customers "sweating and fanning their tongues, assailed by both pleasure and pain." Encouraged by this reaction, she instructed Samyang's food scientists to make their ramen spicier during the prototype phase.

The global popularity of these noodles skyrocketed with the advent of The Fire Noodle Challenge on YouTube. Initiated in 2014 by the YouTube channel "Korean Englishman", the challenge featured host Josh Carrott and his friends in the UK racing to finish the spicy noodles without any beverage to cool down the heat. The viral nature of the challenge led to many other YouTubers worldwide replicating it, significantly boosting the noodles' popularity.

Samyang's Confidence in Global Appeal

Despite the recall in Denmark, Samyang remains confident in the appeal of its spicy ramen. The company emphasised that its products continue to be enjoyed globally without similar issues. While Danish officials act cautiously, Samyang stands by the integrity of their products, suggesting that the issue lies more with the Danish palate than with the noodles themselves.