Tokyo Momofuku Ando, a Japanese businessman whose later-in-life invention of instant noodles revolutionized how people eat one of the world's oldest foods, died Friday of heart failure in an Osaka-area hospital. He was 96.
Ando's entrepreneurial genius was to shuck off centuries of tradition and realize that noodles did not necessarily have to be cooked fresh and served only after being steeped in vats of boiling water. After tinkering for a year in his backyard shed, he discovered that noodles could be dried, packaged and rehydrated in a bowl of boiling water in just three minutes - and served almost anywhere.
His gamble with flour, palm oil and MSG created a food that appealed to tastes across Asia and in the United States. He began exporting instant ramen into the U.S. in 1970 and a year later created Cup Noodle - noodles that could be sold and prepared in the same container - inspired by the way American consumers plopped their noodles into a cup and ate them with a fork.