Following the success of the Pot Noodle, the Pot Noodle Company have branched out in numerous directions, including (but not limited to):

But the one that preceded all these was the Hot Noodle, subtitled: Bombay Bad Boy. The pot is black. Not matt black. Not gloss black. Black like the big bottles of motor oil. The artwork printed around it and on the metal lid seems oddly out of place. Whereas normal Pot Noodles are dressed up to look like food, no such illusion is maintained here.

As you commit yourself and peel back the metal seal, it occurs that this is a whole new level of artificiality. This is not genetically modified, this is chemically synthesised. It is a creation of man.

You peer into the container and see a few hundred grams of peculiar off-green mass. There is some structure but it is largely hidden by the dust. There is a black plastic square partially buried in the dirt. Gingerly you retrieve it, carefully tapping the powder it brings with it back into the tub. This square is the sachet, and at this point you remember that this is something you are expected to eat. With your mouth.

There is a clak and the kettle has boiled. Some people like to lift the pot and tap a corner against the worksurface to level the powder. As it shifts you catch a scent drifting up. It smells like the green powder on the bark of oak trees. You pour in the water and watch the green dirt turn into mud. It still fails to resemble food. It seems easy to imagine ants nesting in it, the target of your boiling water. Water Fill Level. Wait Two Minutes.

As you wait, you inspect the sachet. It is slightly more interesting than the normal sachets (with the possible exception of the Sizzler). On the front is a large (in context) picture of a meaty explosion with the words Hot Sauce superimposed. The other side features a kind of graph, with grades marked out at a little over 2 millimetre intervals and at the top, middle and bottom respectively, 3 labels corresponding to the amount of hot sauce to be added. ... Bring it on! ... You and who's army? ... Someone's going to get HURT. To the left of this the shape of a fork with wavy (presumably flame-like) points is made by the outline of a transparent window onto the sauce inside. The sauce seems a sort of fiery red-orange colour, though this turns out to be more the back side of the explosion graphic.

After stirring, waiting and stirring again, it's time to add the sauce. Of course no-one's going to be threatened by a small plastic sachet, so in it .. all ... goes. Red. ... Very Very Red. Deep menacing red. Redder and thicker than blood. It sits atop the green soup in stark contrast to its surroundings. Like some kind of hellish bullseye, black, green, Red. You shrug and mix it in a bit, turning the green paste a slightly more welcoming grey-brown colour.

You stick your fork in...

Hot Noodle, Bombay Bad Boy is made by Unilever Bestfoods who bought the Pot Noodle brand in 1995 from (if memory serves) Golden Wonder. Pots are generally sold individually in the UK for around 67 pence, or 99 pence for the king-sized version, depending on the retail outlet. Supermarkets often run offers on Pot Noodles so keep your eyes open. It is described on the packet as Noodles in an incredibly hot sauce with soya pieces, dried vegetables and a sachet of very hot sauce. The ingredients are as follows:

Main pot contents after preparation:

Sachet (Hot Sauce - 1.9%):

In actual fact, despite the above, regular consumers of hot curries and other capsaicin laced products probably won't consider Hot Noodles especially hot. Certainly, without the sachet they're as mild as a summer morning. But relative to other dehydrated snack foods they do come as something of a shock. Hot Peperamis, for example, don't even come close. Whereas a Chow Mein pot is pretty much always welcome, you have to be in a particular kind of mood to actually want a Hot Noodle. Today for example I was attempting to debug a program whilst my idiot co-worker woman was hunting for a pen by repeatedly thumping the desk with her fat paws. Some things just make you want to hurt yourself.