Although it has stared me in the face for years and should have been plainly obvious, last night I had a revelation that the noodles in Top Ramen are “wrong.” Actual ramen from a ramen house has straight noodles (and good broth that doesn’t come from a powder, but that’s beside this point). Ramen noodles are, more or less, a close relative to spaghetti noodles. Top Ramen, Cup Noodle, and the other lesser-known instant noodles are all wiggly.
I remember from the Ignite Portland talk on Cup Noodle that the Cup Noodle engineers were under a number of constraints regarding the freeze-drying of the broth and the composition of the noodles. I do not remember anything in the talk about the wiggly packed-in shape of the noodles, but I can see that easily fitting into their design requirements. Instant soup with straight spaghetti-style noodles would take more space and would be more brittle during shipping. The wiggly brick of solid noodles is a sort of three-dimensional space-filling curve that packs the most noodles into the smallest space and has the added bonus of being much more solid, rigid, and resilient to shipping damage.