Originally a fictional contest employed by the writers of World War II pitting G.I. grub cooks against the culinary skills of their Japanese detainees (Japanese: 料理の鉄人/Ryōri no tetsujin, English translation: Eat This Eel or Die! I Challenge You, Men of Iron Who Cook. Can You Deny Me Your Skills as Warrior Cooks?), Iron Chef America was spun out into a successful series of its own. The first few seasons' contests were primarily friendly in origin, with only personal honor and national pride riding on the outcomes. Of recent note, the Japanese-financed Cylon duplicate of Bobby Flay, the RoboFlay 9000, proved susceptible to cluster bombs of extra virgin olive oil lobbed by competitor Iron Chef Julia Child; the ensuing loss allowed America to take controlling ownership of Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.
On Iron Chef America, contestants must prepare five dishes, each of which must feature that show's secret ingredient. As the show has progressed, the ingredients in question have become increasingly exotic and esoteric in nature. Season 8's ingredient roster included both unicorn and feldspar; Season 10 concluded with the twin ingredient combination of pixie dust and leprachaun. In a stunning twist on matter, Season 12's finale included no specific foodstuff, but instead required that both competitors use no cooking appliances save what they could fashion from a 1974 Dodge Dart.