We use so many things in our day-to-day life that we have never really pondered upon how those things came into existence in the first place. You just tied a shoe with Velcro. But how did it come about? The beer that you had with dinner last night? How about that?
Turns out, the saying, ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’ is not always the case. A lot of things that have come into existence have been invented as nothing more than an accident. There is a very thin line between an invention and an accidental failure.
Let us tell you about the most famous inventions of all time that were all an accident and completely unintentional. But had they not been invented, we would have surely missed a lot of things and the world would have been a very different place.
Horst Dornbusch gave us a theory that beer was actually invented accidentally while making bread. One day a woman was making bread outdoors and it started raining suddenly. She ran inside her house and forgot about the dough. After a day or two when she checked the dough, there was a soupy, fermenting liquid in the dough bowl. The woman tried a beer for the first time in the world!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
What would you fulfill your sweet-tooth cravings with, had chocolate chip cookies not been invented? In 1930, the co-owner of Toll House-in, Ruth Graves Wakefield was preparing some chocolate cookies when she suddenly ran out of baker’s chocolate. She suddenly got an idea and chopped up a bar of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate thinking that it would melt and spread evenly in the batter. But what came out of the oven was the world’s first-ever batch of chocolate chip cookies!
Since Champagne, France, is on a very high altitude, the monks would have had a problem in fermenting wine in colder months when it would stop temporarily, and when it would all begin again in spring, there would be an excess of carbon dioxide in the wine bottle. When in 1668 the Catholic Church called in Dom Pierre Perignon to handle the situation, people decided that they actually liked the tastes and it would be even better if Perignon could make it even frizzier. And hence, the champagne came into existence!
The chewing gum that we all know of today was not invented until the 1800s. Thomas Adams, an American inventor, was on his way to try to convert chicle into rubber, which failed and he ended up with the chewy treat.
In the 16th century, a Dutch ship-master decided to heat wine to concentrate the alcohol and make it easier for transportation and then add water to it after reaching his destination. To his surprise, the concentrated wine tasted very different and good and so he renamed it as ‘brandewijn’ which means burnt wine in Dutch.
In 1826, chemist John Walker accidentally scraped a stick coated in chemicals on his hearth and to his utter surprise, it suddenly caught fire! He made his so-called ‘Friction Lights’ with cardboard initially, and then shifted to wooden splints and sandpaper.
22-year-old Robert Augustus Chesebrough wanted to see the possibilities of all that petroleum could make. When he observed the workers drilling petroleum, he saw that there was a byproduct that the workers used to heal their cuts and wounds with. And hence came Vaseline into our world.
In the 1980s, a San Francisco ophthalmologist was trying out new treatments for cross-eyes. Though his trial for the eyes was successful, he also noticed that his treatment had astonishing face-lifting side-effects, which was the start of Botox!
Tea merchant Thomas Sullivan in 1908, began shipping samples of his tea out in small silk pouches- without even thinking that people could or would use it as tea bags. People loved how convenient it was that way and therefore tea-bags became famous.
Walter Hunt was going through a tough time trying to find a way to pay off his debts. He started fidgeting around with a metal wire and discovered that when coiled, the wire could clasp to itself and unclasp as well. And on 10th April 1849, the safety pin was patented.
Everyone’s favorite pastime, bubble wraps were invented originally with the intention of making them a wallpaper, by engineer Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes. But the wrap did not quite work as wallpaper so the engineers decided to pivot it in 1960 as a protective packaging.
A Chinese cook mixed saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal over a fire as an experiment. It suddenly exploded and he was astonished. He tried mixing the same ingredients again and was amazed to see it burst again. Later the Chinese started mixing the ingredients in bamboo and firecrackers came into being.
Humphry Davy, a young English inventor, and chemist had the habit of testing his lab experiments on himself. One day he inhaled heat-treated ammonium nitrate crystals that produced gas, and the result was a euphoric experience which was named ‘laughing gas’.
Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was working on cathode rays in his lab, and suddenly he caught something from the corner of his eye. A screen that had some remains of a chemical from the previous experiment showcased the very first X-ray.
Microwave, something that we use on a daily purpose was invented by Percy Spencer when he was controlling a Magnetron, the main component of radar. He realized that the candy bar in his pocket had melted during the experiment and so the first microwave was ready for the world.
John Pemberton, a civil war veteran who worked as a pharmacist, was trying to make a medicine for the ailment of headaches, opiate addiction, and stomach pain. What accidentally came into being was the most famous drink of all time.
Ice Cream Cones
Can’t believe that ice-cream was served for several years without the invention of a cone until 1904 when at World’s Fair, an ice-cream stall was finished with all the plates it served ice-cream on. The waffle stall next to them made an offer and soon the waffle makers made cone-like waffles and so the ice-cream cone was invented.
When William Perkin, a chemist was searching for a cure for malaria in 1856, he accidentally invented the color mauve. His experiment went terribly wrong and created a lot of mess. The only positive part was the beautiful color that radiated from the petri-dish.
Richard Jones, a naval engineer, was trying to invent a meter that could monitor the amount of power on naval battleships. During the process, one of the tension springs fell to the ground and it kept bouncing from place to place. The product? A slinky!
When a canon engineer kept his hot iron on his pen by accident, he noticed ink oozing out from the pen’s tip a few minutes later. This principle led to the creation of the ink-jet printer which is so useful nowadays.
Jean Baptise Jolly, who worked in the textile industry, discovered a revolutionary method of cleaning clothes by accident. His maid accidentally spill kerosene from a broken lamp onto a tablecloth . That is when Jolly observed that kerosene made the cloth very clean, and thus the idea of dry cleaning.
Dr. Alexander Fleming had left out cultures of Staphylococcus aureus in his lab for two weeks continuously, after which he noticed that the growth was prevented by a mold called Pemicillium Notatum when Fleming did not want to revolutionize all medicine.
While helping his brother in cooking, Will Keith Kellogg forgot some bread dough outside only for some hours. Upon realizing what he had done, he decided to bake it anyway. And as a result, corn flakes were made.
Can you imagine a day without stainless steel in your kitchen? It was first invented with the intention of making a material that would not rust by entering the arms of the machine, that is fixed on the material to develop a gun barrel.
Charles Jackson, William Mortal and Crawford Wrong decided to find a practically greater way of the use of the mixture of nitrous oxide and laughing gas. The greater use of it was nothing else but Anesthesia.
When a French chemist accidentally dropped his flask full of plastic cellulose nitrate off his desk, he noticed that it did not break but just cracked. Since then the same glass has been used in all vehicle windshields.
In 1941, George de Mestral was on a walk in the woods with his dog. When he returned home, he noticed that a lot of burrs were stuck to his dog’s hair. By seeing how firmly the little burrs were attached, he tried recreating it by himself and he formed the Velcro.
Plastic is all around us nowadays. Can you imagine that it was created by an accident? Leo Hendrick Baekeland tried to find an alternative to shellac which was earlier in place of plastic but was very costly. He found a moldable material that even withstood high temperatures, and that was plastic.
In 1853, a chef from New York named George Crum got repeated complaints about soggy french fries. In his attempt to do something about the complaint, the chef sliced a potato extra thin, fried it and then immediately put it into salt. That was the invention of potato chips.
In 1968, a chemist named Spencer Silver accidentally made an adhesive that was two ways, that is, it was strong enough to hold the paper on a surface but was weak to not rip it off while taking the paper down. 3 months later, Post-It Notes came to the market.
In 1905, a young boy named Frank Epperson was trying to save some money and had decided to make soda pop at home by himself. He used a combination of powder water but the result did not taste like soda pop at all. He left the solution on his porch all night, and when the temperature fell below zero, the first Popsicle was made.
Play-doh was originally created for the purpose of cleaning wallpapers. But in the 20th century, people had stopped using coal in their homes and so their wallpapers did not need much cleaning. And then a very interesting use of it was established, which we all know of.
One day while making plastic lenses to be implemented on gun sights, Harry Coover, a researcher at Kodak accidentally made a synthetic adhesive which was made from cyanoacrylate. That was the first-ever super glue created.
Alfred Nobel made an opponent for gun powder when he found a way to contain nitroglycerin in a tube without making it lose its power. And so, the dynamite was introduced to this world.
In 1839, Charles Goodyear was trying to create a weatherproof rubber and was failing immensely. He achieved success when he accidentally spilled some regular rubber mixed with sulfur all over a hot burning stove and saw that its structure still adhered to its form.
LSD As A Drug
Albert Hoffman was researching lysergic acid derivatives in a laboratory in Switzerland when he unintentionally ended up following an amount of LSD and went to the first acid trip in history.
In 1889, doctors at the University of Strasbourg removed a dog’s pancreas to check how they affected digestion. They noticed the flying of flies around the dog’s urine after that, which was abnormal. That is when they discovered that by removing pancreas the dog had got diabetes.
Teflon, the product that is used to make non-stick pans, polish, and a lot of other things were invented accidentally by Roy J. Plunkett. While searching refrigerants, he noticed that some of his gas had turned to white powder which was also heat-resistant with low surface friction. And so came the Teflon.
Pasty Sherman was working to develop a rubber material that would not deteriorate from being around jet aircraft fuels. She dropped the experimenting mixture on her shoe by mistake and that is how the stain-resistant compound came in our lives.
During World War II, James Wright was trying to make a rubber substitute from silicon since it was widely available. During testing silicon oil, Wright added boric acid to it, which resulted in a gooey mess that bounced which became a fun toy.