[WORLDKINGS] Top 100 founders of the companies over 100-years and still in business – P29 - Kikunae Ikeda and Saburosuke Suzuki II (Japan): The two founders of the 112-year history of Asia's most famous MSG brand - Ajinomoto (1908)


(WorldKings.org) The origin of “Umami” began with the two founding fathers of the Ajinomoto Group: Dr. Kikunae Ikeda , Discoverer of the umami taste and Saburosuke Suzuki II, Founder of the Ajinomoto Group.

Kikunae Ikeda (8 October 1864 – 3 May 1936) was a Japanese chemist and Tokyo Imperial University professor of Chemistry.  In 1907 at the Tokyo Imperial University in Japan, Professor Ikeda was eating dinner with his family when he suddenly stopped. That day the dashi broth in his soup was more delicious than normal; after stirring a few times he realized the difference was the umami flavor from the addition of kombu, a species of brown macroalgae and flakes of fish known as katsuobushi. He understood that kombu was the secret to that flavor, and from that day on he studied the chemical composition of kelp.



By 1908, he had isolated brown crystals of glutamic acid (glutamate) which conveyed the characteristic flavor. The chemical monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the chemical basis for the umami flavor. He chose to call it Ajinomoto ( "essence of flavor"). By 1909 he had developed a process for mass-producing MSG. He was able to extract MSG from wheat and defatted soybean, and patented the process for its manufacture.



Saburosuke Suzuki II was born about 145 years ago, on December 27, 1867. He was the eldest son of a Hayama merchant (Kanagawa Prefecture). When he was nine, his hard-working father passed away, and from then on his mother, Naka, took charge of the store. He inherited it when he was 18 years old. At the age of 35, he set up an office in what is now Ginza 4-chome, and became known among the local populace as the top chemical and pharmaceutical businessman in the Kanto region.



In February 1908, when he was 40 years old, he reached the great turning point of his life. That month, he visited the laboratory of the Tokyo Imperial University Dr. Kikunae Ikeda, who was researching Kombu seaweed. That visit led to the beginning of a wonderful friendship, because in August of that year, when Dr. Ikeda had just received a patent for his new type of seasoning, he asked Saburosuke Suzuki II  to help him make a business out of it. Then Saburosuke Suzuki II called a family meeting to choose a name for their product. They decided on AJI-NO-MOTO® and built a new factory near what is now Zushi Station.



Today, MSG is mass-produced from fermented cornstarch, sugar cane or beet.   Ajinomoto Co., Inc. currently employs over 32,000 people. With this method the global production of MSG increased rapidly. MSG ranks today as one of the top flavor enhancers after salt and pepper.

According to en.wikipedi and ajinomoto.co.jp

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