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Great Big Story unveils the surprising history behind instant ramen

(Source: Great Big Story/YouTube)

Great Big Story describes itself as “a video network dedicated to the untold, overlooked, and flat-out amazing,” which sounds terribly highfalutin, but some of the channel’s most interesting mini-documentaries have been the ones that reveal the extraordinary origins of everyday things people take for granted, like those giant bows that sometimes wind up on luxury cars and wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men. Great Big Story’s latest video is a perfect example of what the channel does best. It’s the story of instant ramen noodles, that time-honored staple of college cuisine. Although inextricably linked with culinary laziness, these amazing noodles are actually the result of a lot of diligence, dedication, and innovation. And it’s all thanks to one person: Japanese businessman Momofuku Ando. It all goes back to the years following World War II, when food was scarce in Japan. America sent over a bunch of wheat flour, assuming the Japanese would make bread with it. But why make bread, wondered Ando, when they could make noodles instead? Great Big Story takes it from there:

Ando challenged himself to create a noodle that was durable but also tasty. Like Edison trying out different filaments for his electric light bulb, Ando spent months experimenting with the recipe. It took a year before he realized that the answer to his conundrum was flash frying the noodles. “This method not only dehydrated them,” explains the narrator, “it left small perforations that allowed the noodles to re-cook quickly.” So there it is, the mystery of Cup Noodles and Top Ramen laid bare. Left unresolved, however, is the mystery of ramen flavor packets and how a small foil envelope of powder can somehow make freshly boiled noodles taste somewhat like shrimp.


[via Laughing Squid]

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