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The history of ramen features cameos from The Yakuza crime syndicate, the U.S. Army, and a businessman who turned a simple idea into a worldwide convenience food. Ramen is so much more than a cheap and filling meal. In this episode of Food History, we break down ramen as a cultural and historic artifact whose evolution continues today.

You’ll hear from a ramen lover who spent two years working in a Japanese ramen shop, and you’ll learn why ramen was practically outlawed in the years following World War II.

Food History is a series from Mental Floss where we dive deep into the culinary stories that lead to the food on our plates. If you have an idea for a dish, cooking technique, or cuisine that you’d like us to explore in a future episode, tell us in the comments. The history of Japanese food is the just the tip of the iceberg in fascinating food stories.

Need more ramen? Check out this video comparing ramen at different price points in Japan:

And for the origins of many other foods, check out our episode of the List Show
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