Most of us probably envision a chef or a food company employee experimenting endlessly to craft the perfect concoction for palates that are tired of the same old thing. A pinch of this, a dash of that, and voila! Finally, after days or even months of hard work, a new food is created.
As it turns out, pure dumb luck is often the greatest inventor of all. Here are 10 favorite foods that came about by complete accident.
In 1905, Frank Epperson invented the Popsicle. Frank was only 11 years old when he invented these ice pops. This child had received some soda-making equipment and was excited to start producing soda. Accidentally, he left the sugary mixture out overnight. The night was bitterly cold. By the next morning, the stick he had used to stir the soda had frozen into the mixture. The young inventor proceeded to lick the soda blend off the stick. He called it the “Epsicle,” naming it after himself. Then he started to sell his concoction to neighbors and friends in his area. They all enjoyed the sweet treat. In 1924, he patented his invention and renamed it as “Popsicle.”
Chocolate Chip Cookies
In 1930, Ruth Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie. She and her loving husband owned a tourist lodge called the Toll House Inn. One day at the inn, she was making chocolate cookies for her many guests and discovered that she had run out of baker’s choclate, one of the key ingredients. Instead of running to the store to grab more baker’s chocolate, she chopped up some Nestle chocolate and put it into the cookie batter. She assumed that the Nestle chocolate would spread out to create a whole chocolate cookie when it was baked in the oven. Instead, she invented the chocolate chip cookie.
Ice Cream Cones
In 1904, Arnold Fornachou created ice cream cones—with some help from a fellow vendor. Business was booming on that hot summer day, and eventually, Arnold ran out of plastic cups in which to serve his mouthwatering ice cream. Luckily, a pastry chef was selling pastries nearby and came to Arnold’s rescue. The pastry chef had some waffles left over. He showed Arnold how to roll them up to form a cone-like shape that would easily hold a good amount of ice cream. This was a delicious way to serve ice cream, and Arnold’s customers loved it. Today, ice cream is served in wafer cones, waffle cones, kiddie cones, and even waffle cone bowls. We can all thank Arnold Fornachou and the pastry chef for this great invention.
In the 1700s, John Montagu discovered that two slices of bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and mustard inside tasted delicious. One popular tale is that John Montagu sat at his desk for hours, trying to create a utensil-free meal that could fill up his stomach and still be easy to eat. Eventually, he came up with the sandwich.
According to legend, an ancient Chinese cook accidentally dropped a piece of nigari into a pot of soybean milk. A curdling effect was created, which made tofu. The chef served the new, unidentified substance to his customers, and surprisingly, they loved the new food. To this day, people eat tofu as a replacement for meat or just as a healthy vegetarian option
In 1853, George Crum worked at Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs. He was a chef and wanted to fulfill his customers’ orders without any flaws. One day, a loyal customer ordered a batch of fried potatoes but did not enjoy their thickness. So he sent them back to the kitchen to be remade—but thinner.
His request was taken seriously, and the cook fulfilled his second order. Unfortunately, the second batch was not to the customer’s standards. This happened one or two times, each batch not being thin enough for the customer’s liking.
Tired of the complaints, George took a potato and sliced it as thin as he possibly could, knowing that this had to be the order that the customer would like to eat. George fried and salted the potato slices, trying his hardest to make them as delicious as possible.
He brought them out to the customer and hoped that this batch would be satisfactory. The customer loved them, and this new food was named the potato chip.
In the 19th century, William and John Kellogg invented corn flakes. These two brothers worked at Battle Creek Sanitarium, where vegetarianism and knowing how to be healthy were very important. One day, the Kelloggs were looking for a substitute for bread. First, they boiled wheat. Unfortunately they boiled the wheat too long. When they rolled it out, it fell into many flakes. Lastly, they baked it—and poof! Out came the bread flakes! Many people thought that this was delicious, but the Kelloggs knew that they could make it better. The brothers substituted corn for wheat, and corn flakes were born.
In the late 1950s, Omar Knedlik invented the treat we all know and love—Slurpees. Knedlik owned a Dairy Queen franchise. One day, the soda fountain wasn’t working so Knedlik stuck bottles of soda in the freezer. He kept them in a bit long, and the liquid became slushy and solid. He served the concoction to his customers, and surprisingly, they loved it. Knedlik continued to receive requests for this slushy soda, and he proceeded to call it a Slurpee!
In 1988, microbiologist Curt Jones invented our favorite sweet snack, Dippin’ Dots. Jones was trying to figure out how to feed cows faster and easier while using fewer materials. He froze a batch of cow feed at around -212 degrees Celsius (-350 °F), and the resulting pellets could easily be fed to the waiting cows.
Jones discovered that this same method could be used with human food. He tested it with ice cream and created Dippin’ Dots, the fun summer treat that we all love.
In 1886, John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola. He was a wounded veteran who was addicted to morphine. Pemberton wanted to create a replacement for the morphine to alleviate his addiction. He experimented many times until he devised a formula with small amounts of cocaine and kola nut. To this day, Coca-Cola is a well-known soda brand that is sold throughout the US.