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Watch: How Instant Ramen Made One Man an Icon

An invention that changed Japanese cuisine

Instant ramen is much more than the favored fare of broke college kids everywhere. Its history dates back to the 1940s, when Japanese businessman Momofuku Ando helped his country recover from World War II and became a household name. This video from Great Big Story offers the details.

It took Ando a year to figure out how to preserve his ramen noodles. The big breakthrough came when he discovered flash-frying them would give them lengthy shelf life, allow them to recook quickly, and provide robust flavor the Japanese were accustomed to in their ramen. Ando brought the iconic packaged ramen to market in the 1950s, and he introduced Cup Noodle in 1978. Eventually, his company began selling upwards of 40 billion units each year.

How important is Ando's name to ramen around the world. If you've ever heard of celebrity chef David Chang's Momofuku Restaurant Group, you have a pretty good idea.