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Everyday Things That Were Invented by Mistake

This Article was written by Hind Sahnoune, Year 12

From cornflakes to Playdoh and even fireworks; there are so many things that we are used to seeing and using every single day that were not the intention of their creators when they were made.

Potato Crisps

Let’s start out with everyone's favourite snack; crisps (AKA "Chips.")

Did you know that crisps were created solely out of spite? Crisps were invented in 1853 when a customer in a restaurant kept complaining that his fries were cut too thick and had them sent back into the kitchen over and over until the Chef, George Crum, seemingly had enough. Engulfed in rage, he decided to cut the potatoes too thin and fry them too deeply to be eaten with a fork. Ironically, that seemed to please the customer and those were the first ever crisps.


Now lets Travel 2000 years into the past. China, to be specific.

Invented in China, 2000 years ago; a Chinese cook mixed together Charcoal, Sulfur, and Saltpeter -all common ingredients in the Chinese kitchen - and put the mixture into a a compressed bamboo tube. This exploded, creating the first-ever fireworks display. There aren't any specific records of the cook’s name, why he did any of this and whether that was his last day on the job.

Chocolate-chip Cookies

We all love chocolate chip cookies. They are a "food" for every mood. Feeling sad? Here’s a cookie. Feeling happy? Here’s a cookie. Feeling stressed, confused, fustrated (etc.)? Here's a cookie. But how exactly did these wondrous little treats come to be?

In 1938, Toll House Inn owner, Ruth Wakefield, was making regular chocolate cookies.

When she realised that she had run out of Bakers’ chocolate, she put pieces of sweetened chocolate and stuck them in the dough, thinking that they would just melt and mix with the batter inside the oven. Except that they didn’t. And that is the story of the chocolate chip cookie.

Ice- Popsicles

Picture this: It's a hot summer day, you go to the freezer and reach for a popsicle. Every wondered who first had the idea of freezing a drink on a stick? Well, it wasn’t on purpose.

In 1905, eleven-year old Frank Epperson accidentally left a mixture of fruit-flavored soft drink, soda powder and water with the stirring stick in the cup out in freezing temperatures. Eighteen years after his happy little accident, Frank decided to patent and sell his groundbreaking discovery, which he marketed as the ‘Eppsicle.’ Afterwards, his kids suggested the name ‘Popsicle.’

Play Doh

One childhood memory that’s been internally engraved into the minds of our generation, is the smell of Play Doh. However, Play Doh; despite being made on purpose, wasn’t meant to be a children’s toy. It was initially supposed to be a wallpaper. But due to it’s dough-like consistency and lack of toxic material, it was instead made into a children’s activity and became one of the most iconic "tools" in history.

Microwave Oven

Let’s move on to one of the worlds’ best known chefs: the Microwave Oven.

In 1945, the inventor Percy Spencer was experimenting with the radar at the company Raytheon. But when the chocolate bar in his pocket melted while he was in close quarters with the magnetron (an electronic vacuum tube that produces radio waves;) Spencer knew that he had a revolutionising discovery on his hands. He experimented with popcorn cornells and other foods, and by working together with Raytheon, the first microwave ever was created. And the culinary world was never the same.

Corn Flakes

Ironically at the end of this list, we mention the first and most important meal of the day... Breakfast. And we all know that no breakfast is complete without a nice bowl of corn flakes. In 1894, Dr. John Kellogg; the superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan and his brother Will, were Seventh Day Activists and they were trying to find Wholesome foods to feed the patients; a task that was made much more difficult by the activists’ strict vegetarian diet. Then, one fateful day, Will left some boiled wheat sitting out and it went stale. Yet the brothers sent it through the rollers hoping to get long sheets of dough anyway, except that they got flakes instead. When they toasted those flakes, they turned out to be a big hit with the patients. They placed a patent on them, under the name 'Granose.'

But they didn't stop there. The brothers experimented with other types of grains including, (you guessed it...) Corn. In 1906 Will created Kellogg's company to sell the corn flakes. But due to a matter of principle, his brother John chose not to take partnership in the company as his brother adding sugar to the recipe lowered its health benefits.

I hope you enjoyed this article. And who knows, maybe someday your happy accident will shape the future generations’ lives. Just don't go creating Fireworks out of kitchen supplies...


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