Accidentally invented


Ever wondered where things come from or how they were invented?

I love finding out how things work and generally I prefer to put things together without the instructions, sometimes to my detriment (just between you and me).

I always find reading facts about life calming after a boring nightmare. So hence we now have a list of what things were accidentally Invented. Please note that beer is first because I did  it alphabetically in order to tire myself out, Chocolate Chip cookies are second for this very same reason.

They say the first beer was drunk when Samson downed a lion, but apparently about 10 000 years ago, when Mesopotamians became the world’s first agrarian society, their stored grains for bread became wet, and began to naturally ferment. Someone actually dared to drink the frothing mess, becoming the first person to “burp” after a brew.

Chocolate chip cookies
When Ruth Wakefield of the Tollhouse Inn, Massachusetts, ran out of baking chocolate one day in 1930, she crumbled up a bar of semi-sweet chocolate and added the pieces to her dough. When she removed them from the oven, the cookies weren’t uniformly infused with melted chocolate, but rather studded with little chunks throughout. Crumbs… imagine a life without chocolate chip cookies.

The Legend of Kaldi maintains that an Ethiopian goat herder checked his flock was acting a bit frisky after eating some bright red berries. After sampling some for himself and feeling the buzz, he brought the berries to a local Imaam who roasted them and boiled a batch in water.

Corn Flakes
In 1894, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. He and his brother Will Keith Kellogg were Seventh Day Adventists, and they were searching for wholesome foods to feed patients that also complied with the Adventists’ strict vegetarian diet. When Will accidentally left some boiled wheat sitting out, it went stale by the time he returned. Rather than throw it away, the brothers sent it through rollers, hoping to make long sheets of dough, but they got flakes instead. They toasted the flakes, which were a big hit with patients, and patented them under the name Granose. The brothers experimented with other grains, including corn, and in 1906, Will created the Kellogg’s company to sell the corn flakes. On principle, John refused to join the company because Will lowered the health benefits of the cereal by adding sugar.

Fireworks originated in China some 2,000 years ago, and legend has it that they were accidentally invented by a cook who mixed together charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter — all items commonly found in kitchens in those days. The mixture burned and when compressed in a bamboo tube, it exploded. There’s no record of whether it was the cook’s last day on the job.

Ice cream cones
During 1904’s St. Louis World’s Fair, Syrian pastry vendor Ernest Hamwi helped out a nearby ice cream seller who’d run short on dishes. He rolled his pastry into a cone so the ice cream could be scooped inside. It was a hit, but Italian immigrant Italo Marchiony also had the same bright spark idea, acquiring the patent for an ice cream cone.

Microwave Ovens

The microwave oven is now a standard appliance in most American households, but it has only been around since the late 1940s. In 1945, Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for the Raytheon Corporation. He was intrigued when the candy bar in his pocket began to melt, so he tried another experiment with popcorn. When it began to pop, Spencer immediately saw the potential in this revolutionary process.

In 1947, Raytheon built the first microwave oven, the Radarange, which weighed 750 pounds, was 51/2feet tall, and cost about $5,000. When the Radarange first became available for home use in the early 1950s, its bulky size and expensive price tag made it unpopular with consumers. But in 1967, a much more popular 100-volt, countertop version was introduced at a price of $495.

One smell most people remember from childhood is the odor of Play-Doh, the brightly-colored, nontoxic modeling clay. Play-Doh was accidentally invented in 1955 by Joseph and Noah McVicker while trying to make a wallpaper cleaner. It was marketed a year later by toy manufacturer Rainbow Crafts. More than 700 million pounds of Play-Doh have sold since then, but the recipe remains a secret.

One freezing San Francisco night in 1905, eleven-year-old Frank Epperson left his soda making equipment out on his porch. The next day, he found the stick with which he’d been stirring flavoured powder into water had frozen upright in the mixture. In 1924, he applied for a patent for this “Epsicle,” which he then changed to “Popsicle,” at the urging of his kids. Remember to thank Frank on that next stinking hot day!

Post-it Notes
A Post-it note is a small piece of paper with a strip of low-tack adhesive on the back that allows it to be temporarily attached to documents, walls, computer monitors, and just about anything else. The idea for the Post-it note was conceived in 1974 by Arthur Fry as a way of holding bookmarks in his hymnal while singing in the church choir. He was aware of an adhesive accidentally developed in 1968 by fellow 3M employee Spencer Silver. No application for the lightly sticky stuff was apparent until Fry’s idea. The 3M company was initially skeptical about the product’s profitability, but in 1980, the product was introduced around the world. Today, Post-it notes are sold in more than 100 countries.

Potato chips
Back in 1853, a customer at Saratoga Springs’ Moon’s Lake House sent batch after batch of fried potatoes back, claiming they weren’t crunchy enough for his liking. Fed-up chef George Crum sliced the final batch as thinly as possible, sizzled them in hot grease and laid on the salt. The crispy taters quickly became a hit throughout the region.

The story goes that gambling man John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich found leaving the betting table to be counter-productive, so he ordered meat to be delivered to him between slices of bread. Another story suggests that work kept him tied to his desk, thus necessitating the fork-free meal.


Saccharin, the oldest artificial sweetener, was accidentally discovered in 1879 by researcher Constantine Fahlberg, who was working at Johns Hopkins University in the laboratory of professor Ira Remsen. Fahlberg’s discovery came after he forgot to wash his hands before lunch. He had spilled a chemical on his hands and it, in turn, caused the bread he ate to taste unusually sweet.

In 1880, the two scientists jointly published the discovery, but in 1884, Fahlberg obtained a patent and began mass-producing saccharin without Remsen. The use of saccharin did not become widespread until sugar was rationed during World War I, and its popularity increased during the 1960s and 1970s with the manufacture of Sweet’N Low and diet soft drinks.

Silly Putty
It bounces, it stretches, it breaks — it’s Silly Putty, the silicone-based plastic clay marketed as a children’s toy by Binney & Smith, Inc. During World War II, while attempting to create a synthetic rubber substitute, James Wright dropped boric acid into silicone oil. The result was a polymerized substance that bounced, but it took several years to find a use for the product.

Finally, in 1950, marketing expert Peter Hodgson saw its potential as a toy, renamed it Silly Putty, and a classic toy was born! Not only is it fun, Silly Putty also has practical uses — it picks up dirt, lint, and pet hair; can stabilize wobbly furniture; and is useful in stress reduction, physical therapy, and in medical and scientific simulations. It was even used by the crew of Apollo 8 to secure tools in zero gravity.

In 1943, naval engineer Richard James was trying to develop a spring that would support and stabilize sensitive equipment on ships. When one of the springs accidentally fell off a shelf, it continued moving, and James got the idea for a toy. His wife Betty came up with the name, and when the Slinky made its debut in late 1945, James sold 400 of the bouncy toys in 90 minutes. Today, more than 250 million Slinkys have been sold worldwide.

Worcestershire sauce
Former Bengal colonial governor Lord Marcus Sandy was pining for his favourite Indian sauce once he returned to England, and commissioned drugstore owners John Lea and William Perrins to recreate it from his descriptions. The smell was too powerful to keep it in their store so they stashed it in their basement for two years. During this time, it aged and improved radically in flavour and odour and became a hit with Bloody Mary fans the world over.

And a last boring fact

Hot chocolate is from the Mayan’s, they ground cocoa beans mixed the powder with water and chili’s and hence hot chocolate was born. They believed that cocoa had magical powers and was food of the Gods.  Between you and me I tend to agree, chocolate is heaven on earth.

9 thoughts on “Accidentally invented

  1. Hey, this is an interesting stuff, I often wonder how these things got invented, like all these recipes… How many husbands had to die while their wives were experimenting with various mushrooms and plants. Inventing new recipes. And so forth.
    When I was about 14 I had the idea of inventing something completely new, you know, to be the first on the planet… I had a completely new drink on my mind and after a lot of pondering I came to the conclusion that a drink with half milk and half coke (well, Slovenian version of it, Cockta, much better actually, less plastic and less aggressive) would be unique. So, I did it and, well, if you try it, make sure you are not too far from the toilet.

  2. Ketchup has an interesting story too. Look it up.

    The first vibrator was made as a “cure” for women suffering from the horrible “sickness” called “hystery”(today known as plain horniness).

    The first zipper was made for shoes. Women needed long long shoes to protect themselves from all the mud when riding one of those huge bicycles (one wheel super huge, the other not so huge). It was needed because the use of bikes went up significantly when the cars couldnt go on most roads anymore because of neglect. Most governments spended all the communication budgets on the brand new invention – trains. So the zipper is here because of the trains. Not by accident, but still interesting.

    The history of the small things we have all around us is interesting. No one would recognize the names of their inventors, but they keep living on through their inventions. They shaped our world. So don’t let anyone tell you to put the past behind you or to live only for today. It’s impossible.

    One day I’ll write a post about the space shuttle fuel tank diameters being determined 2000 years ago by the ancient Romans…

  3. Robert we call that Brown Milk here or Bull – well that is how it was told to me when I drank it – used to love it strangely enough but yes no more thank you *shivers*

    TDYK I look forward to that post thanks for the additions, I love learning new things that was just awesome!

    Kwoneshe2 I couldn’t agree more!

    Ilegirl I second your vote – Ruth Wakefield day indoods! So when shall we set this date for? Am serious

    Joy Naturally that was alphabetical lmao isn’t it just fab!

    Glaize glad you enjoyed!

  4. I see, I thought I was really being inventive. Perhaps I was, after all this was like 28 years ago. Boy, am I old. Anyway, so you are saying people are actually drinking happily this stuff. And they do not need to run to the toilet? Well, I had to sprint like Bolt.

  5. Perhaps it was in fact you that caused this world wide trend!!! Dang now least I can blame you for it though I can’t touch it anymore. I totally got the name wrong, we used to call it Brown Cows lol

    Have you ever had peanut butter milk? that is deeeevine

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