The History of Pad Thai: How the Amazing Dish Came to Be

October 12, 2020
IN Thai Cuisine

Over the past 15 years, the Thai population in America has grown to be twice its previous size. With this amazing spike in people with welcoming traditions, fun events, and interesting beliefs, another great change has taken place: the rise of Thai food in the US.

Pad Thai is one of the most popular foods in both Thailand and in America, and you’ve likely had (and loved) it many times before. But where did this delicious dish come from? That’s what we’re going to talk about here today! Read on to learn the history of Pad Thai and how it became the popular comfort food that it is today.

The Invention of a National Dish

The man who invented Pad Thai, Plaek Phibunsongkhram, was the true definition of a renaissance man. Known more popularly as Phibun, he played a huge role in a 1932 military coup that stripped the Thai monarchy of absolute power. He then went on to become a military officer that defeated the royalist rebellion and went on to be the Thai Minister of Defense.

As you might imagine, Phibun was quite a patriotic man. He decided to invent a national dish that brought the nation together and symbolized the people’s love for their country.

While there are many ways that Pad Thai may have come to be, the common denominator is that Phibun had noodles stir-fried in the Chinese style with Thai spices and ingredients like peanuts, tamarind, and palm sugar.

What Happened During World War II

From there, it became a common Thai street food that’s sold at many markets and small restaurants.

Much of the promotion for Pad Thai took place during World War II, which makes sense considering that the dish was invented in 1938. Thailand suffered a shortage of rice during this time because of the military action and floods. By this point, Phibun was the Prime Minister of Thailand and, therefore, the leader of the nation. He encouraged the people to eat rice noodles instead.

Proliferation in Popularity

At the end of WWII, Pad Thai was a solidly established part of Thailand’s national identity. When Thai immigrants came to the US (and to other countries), they brought this dish with them. Because essential ingredients could be imported from Thailand, the dishes were authentic and delicious.

People all around the world began to enjoy Pad Thai, and Thai immigrants were happy to share in this part of their culture. In time, it was listed as one of CNN’s ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods’ and has appeared many times in pop culture all around the globe.

Order Pad Thai (and More) Now

Now that you know the history of Pad Thai and how such a delicious dish came to be, it’s time to enjoy a delicious bowl of these noodles. Check out our noodle menu to order our award-winning Pad Thai and to view the many other noodle dishes that we offer. We’re excited to cook you some fresh food and make your day brighter!

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