The dish had been known in ancient Siam in various forms for centuries. The variant of noodle was brought to the ancient Thai capital of Ayuthaya by Vietnamese traders. However, it was first made popular as a national dish by Luang Phibunsongkhram when he was prime minister during the 1930s and 1940s, partly as an element of his campaign for Thai nationalism and centralization, and partly for a campaign to reduce rice consumption in Thailand. The Thai economy at this time was heavily dependent on rice exports; Phibunsongkhram hoped to increase the amount available for export by launching a campaign to educate the underprivileged in the production of rice noodles, as well as in the preparation of these noodles with other ingredients to sell in small cafes and from street carts. Nowadays Pad Thai has become a widespread staple food and is one of Thailand’s national dishes.