Normally when someone invents a revolutionary product that goes on to earn $3 billion annually, it’s for financial gain, fame, and success—not necessarily to feed a poor, hungry nation. That’s where Momofuku Ando, the creator of instant ramen, was different: Walking through his war-torn hometown of Osaka in 1945, he saw a long line of hungry survivors waiting for bowls of hot noodles, as Gizmodo reports. Ando tasked himself with inventing nonperishable, cheap noodles that would cook quickly.
It took years, but one day Ando threw his noodles into hot tempura oil, and the dehydrated noodle was born. Instant ramen would go on to become a staple for Japanese families, and later Americans who got their noodles in a Styrofoam cup for added convenience. After taking over the world, and even going into space—as the vacuum-packed instant version of ramen—global ramen consumption averages 14 bowls per person annually. (Read more ramen noodles stories.)