In order to create the life-changing products, inventors have to spend years and years. Although most of the results ended up perfectly, their success came a little bit later.
But, whether you believe it or not, some inventors were able to create fascinating products by accident. Based on this fact, it is safe to assume that mistakes have had lasting effects on the world as we see today.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
In 1930, the owner of Toll House Inn, Ruth Wakefield, decided to bake chocolate cookies. However, she ran out of baker’s chocolate. As an alternative, she used a sweetened Nestle chocolate and broke it into small pieces. Expecting the tiny blocks will melt, she then added them to a cookie dough. When she finally checked on the results, she got a chocolate chip cookie instead.
Because the cookies were very popular in town, the owner of Nestle and Wakefield came to an agreement that in exchange of the recipe, Wakefield will be given a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate.
A chef named George Crum accidentally invented potato chips in 1853, when an irritating customer kept returning his French fried potatoes because they were very soggy. He wanted to teach the patron a lesson and decided to slice the potatoes thinly, fried them to a crisp, and then sprinkled them with salt. Surprisingly, the customer liked them. Since then, it was called “Saratoga Chips” and became featured on the menu.
During World War II, there was a need for rubber for soldier boots and airplane tires. So, an engineer at General Electric named James Wright tried to create an alternative to rubber out of silicon. He then added boric acid to the solution. The result was a bouncy mass that the government wasn’t interested in using.
However, an unemployed Peter Hodgson saw the potential of the product. He immediately borrowed $147 and bought the rights from GE. He started producing the substance and called it Silly Putty. At that time, it was almost Easter. So, he thought of packing them in plastic eggs. It eventually became one of the best-selling toys in America.
Ice Cream Cones
Though the world already knew about ice cream for years, it wasn’t until 1904 when the ice cream cone was born. At the World’s Fair, an ice cream stand ran out of bowls and plates. Ernest A. Hamwi, on the other hand, was selling crispy waffle-like pastries, right next to the ice cream seller. So, the two stall owners agree to roll the waffles and put the ice cream on top. Hence, the ice cream cone was invented.
A researcher at Kodak Laboratories, named Harry Coover, was making plastic lenses for gun sights. And all of a sudden, he stumbled upon a synthetic adhesive made from cyanoacylate. During that time, he was hesitant in using it because it was too sticky for any use. After a few years, he discovered that the sticky adhesives possess distinct properties, which binds any materials even in the absence of heat and pressure. So, he and his team tested the substance on different items in the laboratory, and all of them became permanently bonded.
German physicist Wilhelm Rontgen was conducting an experiment that involved cathode rays in 1895. Out of nowhere, he realized that there was a fluorescent cardboard across the room that lit up, despite the fact that there was a very thick block between it and the cathode ray. Because of the incident, he discovered the presence of what we call today as “X-rays”, in which X means unknown.
Invented by Noah and Joseph McViker, the Play-Doh was actually meant to be used as a cleaning agent to remove soot off wallpapers. However, in the early 20th century, natural gas became the most common source of heat, which resulted in wallpapers staying clean. In 1950, the inventors found out that a teacher was using their creation as a modeling dough in his class. Before they officially launched Rainbow Crafts and Play-Doh, they first tested the product for any toxic content.
While trying to make a bread that be easily digested for the patients at a sanitarium, John and Will Kellogg discovered something. At first, they boiled wheat to make dough. Next, they allowed it to boil for far too long. When they finally rolled it out, they were surprised it separated into large, flat flakes. Still, they went on and toasted and served them to the patients. It was then called granose, which was a very popular food at the sanitarium. In 1906, the brothers experimented with it and used other flakes from other grains until they were able to form the company, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake.
Percy Spencer of the Raytheon Company invented the microwave oven as a result of a melted chocolate bar. While doing an extensive radar-related research project using a vacuum tube, a candy bar in his pocket began to melt. Astounded by the incident, he immediately grabbed some unpopped popcorn kennels and took them near the device. When they successfully popped, he then tried other foods. Because of his discovery, engineers tried to contain the microwaves in a safe enclosure. And in 1976, the microwave oven was introduced.
Using only water and powder, 11-year-old Frank Epperson was able to created his own pop at home. Absentmindedly, he left the mixture of powder and water on the baclony all night. Suddenly, the temperature began to drop. When he went out in the morning, he saw his concoction frozen with a stirring stick in it. After 17 years, he served his creation at a Fireman’s ball.
The little pink sachets served in restaurants were invented by Constantin Fahlberg in 1879, while looking for alternative uses for coal tar. One day, when he went home, he noticed that the biscuits his wife used to serve him tasted sweeter than usual. Sooner, he realized that the chemical that caused the biscuit to change its taste had been on his hands every after his lab work.
Shellac, a chemical extracted from Southeast Asian beetles, was the best choice of material when it comes to insulation. But suddenly, the beetles became very expensive to import. So, a chemist named Leo Hendrik Baekeland decide to make some money by creating an alternative. Instead of creating a material that would serve as a substitute for shellac, he created something that was elastic, yet robust, non-conductive and heat resistant. Now, his invention is simply known as plastic.
Pharmacist and Civil War veteran John Pemberton was responsible for the invention of Coca-Cola. Since he was addicted to morphine for pain, he looked for an alternative. He then created a syrup out of cocoa and wine and called it “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca”. The concoction was believed to be a cure for nervous disorders and headaches. Unfortunately, in 1885, Atlanta prohibited the selling of alcohol. So, he created a purely coca-based version of the syrup and mixed it with carbonated water. It was then consumed as a soda.
While trying to make a strong adhesive for the aerospace industry, Spencer Silver stumbled across a low-tack adhesive. He found out that it was capable of holding paper onto a surface but was too weak that it wouldn’t cause it to tear apart. After several attempts, his colleague, Art Fry found a marketable application. He realized it can be used as a no-slip bookmark. In 1980, the Post-It note was launched all across the country.
John Hopps was studying about hypothermia by using radio frequency heating in restoring body temperature. In one of his experiments, he discovered that if a heart stopped beating due to cooling, it can be revived again through artificial stimulation of electricity. This research led to the creation of the pacemaker.
While conducting research on staphylococcus, Sir Alexander Fleming put some of the bacteria specie to Petri dishes. And then, he left for a vacation. He expected the bacteria to multiply, but when he returned, he was shocked to see a mold growing in the dishes. He decided to grow the mold itself, and later, he learned that it had a powerful antibiotic that can be used in treating ailments.
During his hunting trip, Swiss engineer George de Mestral noticed how shrubs would stick to his dog’s fur. When they arrived home, he placed them under a microscope and saw how the tiny loops of seed-bearing burr clinged to the fabric of his pants. The incident inspired him to create the Velcro.
Richard Jones, a naval engineer, was looking for ways on how to employ springs aboard navy ships to avoid sensitive instruments from bouncing around. When he accidentally dropped one of them, the spring landed upright on the floor. For that, the kids started to play with what we call the “Slinky”.
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