State prisoners are preferring a different form of currency for buying goods and services within the prison system, finds new research.
According to the study from the University of Arizona School of Sociology, ramen noodles have surpassed cigarettes as the payment method of choice.
See photos from high profile prison escapes and jail breaks:
High profile jail breaks, prison escapes
High profile jail breaks, prison escapes
Prison inmates Richard Matt, 48, (L) and David Sweat, 35, are seen in a combination of enhanced pictures released by the New York State police June 17, 2015, showing how they might look after escaping 12 days ago. After more than 1,200 tips from the public, authorities on Wednesday expanded a manhunt for two killers whose brazen escape from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, on June 6.
(REUTERS/New York State Police/Handout)
Mexico's Attorney General Arely Gomez shows a picture of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman during a press conference held at the Secretaria de Gobernacion in Mexico City, on July 13, 2015. Guzman managed to escape from his cell despite a monitoring bracelet and 24-hour security camera surveillance, and likely was helped by prison officials, authorities said Monday.
(YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Lionel Clah, right, and Joseph Cruz escaped while being transported to a New Mexico prison.
(Photo via New Mexico Department of Corrections)
Mug shots of three prisoners that made a rare escape from Alcatraz Island. From left to right: Clarence Anglin, John William Anglin, and Frank Lee.
(Bettmann via Getty Images)
John Dillinger, desperado, Public Enemy No. 1, as he looked while being taken from Tucson, Arizona to Crown Point, Indiana, where he later escaped.
(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Convicted Chardon High School gunman TJ Lane was one of three inamtes who escaped the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Ohio in 2014. He was quickly captured.
Three weeks after seven armed convicts escaped from a Texas prison, authorities continued to scour the state January 4, 2001, for the gang suspected of shooting a policeman 11 times in a Christmas Eve robbery near Dallas. Local and state police and federal agents have offered a reward of $100,000 per escapee. The convicts are top row L-R; Michael Anthony Rodriguez, George Rivas, Joseph C. Garcia and Larry Jame Harper. Bottom row, L-R; Randy Ethan Halprin, Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr and Donald Keith Newbury.
Inmates Jonathan Tieu, 20, Hossein Nayeri, 37, and Bac Duong, 43, (L to R) are seen in an undated combination photo released by the Orange County, California, Sheriff's Department. The three inmates, an accused murderer and two other California prisoners, were still at large on Sunday after breaking out of the Orange County jail as a massive manhunt for the trio entered its third day, authorities said. REUTERS/Orange County Sheriff's Department/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Rafael McCloud, 34, is shown in this Warren County Sheriff's Department handout photo. McCloud sparked a manhunt in Mississippi on March 2, 2015 after he swiped a jail employee's clothes, radio and keys and escaped from a county detention facility out a side door, police said. REUTERS/Warren County Sherriff's Department
Shane Anthony Vernon, 27, a prisoner who escaped from Coosa County jail for the second time in three weeks on November 19, 2017, is shown in this booking photo provided November 22, 2017. Coosa County Jail/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Frank Freshwaters, 79, of Akron, Ohio, United States, is seen in 1959 and 2015 photos released by the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in Florida. Freshwaters was arrested in Melbourne, Florida, on Monday after spending 56 years on the run. Freshwaters, who had been living under the name William Harold Cox, escaped from an Ohio prison in 1959 while serving a sentence related to a manslaughter conviction, authorities said. REUTERS/Brevard County Sheriff's Office/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Mississippi Department of Corrections photo of Sam Gene Harris, a fugitive arrested in Utah 34 years after he escaped. Harris, who escaped from a minimum security prison in Mississippi 35 years ago, was captured in Utah and returned to Mississippi to serve out the remainder of his sentence, officials said on February 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mississippi Department of Corrections/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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Doctoral candidate Michael Gibson-Light identified this trend when he interviewed nearly 60 inmates as well as staff at an unnamed U.S. state prison between May 2015 and May 2016.
During this time, he observed ramen being traded for other items like candy and toiletries, services like cleaning, and even as bets during gambling, notes The Independent.
He has linked this change to prison cutbacks which he says have caused a drop in the amount and quality of food that is provided.
According to Gibson-Light, "Prisoners are so unhappy with the quality and quantity of prison food that they receive that they have begun relying on ramen noodles — a cheap, durable food product — as a form of money in the underground economy."