Food Mistakes Gone Right

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Food Mistakes Gone Right
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Food Mistakes Gone Right

Can you imagine a world without Worcestershire sauce, popsicles and quick-frozen foods? We can't - but these and more of your favorite foods were created by accident! Find out the surprising story behind twelve of your favorite foods that could have never been invented.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

In 1930, Ruth Wakefield purchased the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, where she prepared meals for her guests. While making her favorite dessert recipe, Butter Drop Do Cookies, Ruth discovered she was out of baker’s chocolate and substituted it with a chopped up bar of Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate. Against her expectations, the chocolate bar pieces did not melt completely, which led to the accidental invention of the chocolate chip cookie.

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Cheese Puffs

When science met accident, cheese puffs were born. During the 1930s, Wisconsin-based Flakall Company, a livestock feed business, developed new flaking machines to break down grains. Operators would pour moistened corn kernels into the machine to prevent clogging, and the machines got hot when they ran continuously. One day, Edward Wilson, a flake operator, noticed that these factors produced puffed ribbons, which he took home, seasoned and ate. They were the first cheese puffs!

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Eleven-year old Frank Epperson accidently invented this frozen treat in 1905 when he left a cup of powdered soda and water with a stirring stick on his porch overnight. The temperatures dropped low enough to freeze his drink into a ice pop, which he called the “Epsicle” and later renamed "popsicle".

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Kellogg’s Cereal

W.K. Kellogg helped his brother Dr. John Harvey Kellogg run Battle Creek Sanitarium, a popular health spa. One night in 1894, W.K. experimented with digestible bread substitutes and accidently left a batch of boiled wheat sitting out, which turned into flakes overnight. W.K. subsequently left the spa business to found The Kellogg Company.

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Potato Chips

The first potato chips may have been invented out of spite! In 1853, George Crum worked as a chef at Saratoga Springs’ Moon Lake Lodge serving French-fried potatoes and other fare. When a picky restaurant patron sent back his potatoes for being too thick, Crum became agitated and sent out a batch of fried potatoes sliced thin enough that you couldn’t eat them with a fork. To his surprise, the chips were a hit and became a popular item on the menu.

Image Credit: jupiterimages

Birds Eye frozen foods

Clarence Birdseye invented flash-frozen foods, and the idea unexpectedly came to him from working as a U.S. government naturalist posted in the Artic! While observing the Native American culture, Birdseye noticed that the extreme weather conditions would instantly freeze freshly caught fish, and this fast-freezing process didn’t affect the taste. Following this discovery, he founded Birdseye Seafoods, Inc. in 1924 and developed his own line of quick-frozen foods.

Image Credit: Birds Eye

Ice Cream Cones

With more than 50 ice cream vendors and over a dozen waffle stands in attendance at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, it’s hard to know for certain who invented the cone-shaped treat. In one account, ice cream vendor Arnold Fornachou ran out of paper dishes, and Ernest Hamwi, manning a neighboring pastry cart, offered to roll up his waffle-like “zalabia” into cones. The idea spread quickly, and soon other vendors were offering the waffle cone.

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Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce

We’re not sure what compelled chemists John Lea and William Perrins to taste a jar of their failed experiment in sauce-making several years after abandoning it in their cellar, but without this lapse in judgment we wouldn’t have Lea & Perrins as the world’s first commercialized Worcestershire sauce. In the early 1800s, the chemists were hired to recreate a recipe acquired by a nobleman during his travels in Bengal. The sauce, which was made with vinegar, molasses, anchovies and spices, tasted awful and was forgotten in the cellar. Years later, the chemists were delighted to find the aging process had mellowed out the flavors wonderfully, and they decided to bottle and sell their accidental discovery.

Image Credit: Lea & Perrins

Crêpe Suzette

In 1895, fourteen-year old French waiter Henri Charpentier was working at a Monte Carlo restaurant where he prepared to serve crêpes to a group of important diners, including Britain's Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII). Charpentier accidently burned the sauce for the crêpes, but the Prince ate every bit of the dish and even spooned all the syrup. When told what he had eaten was "Crepes Princesse," the Prince mock protested that there was a lady present at the table and asked for it to be changed to Crepes Suzette, after his female companion.

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Upon tasting champagne, Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Perignon once uttered, "Come quickly, I am tasting stars!" The popular story attributes Dom as the accidental inventor of champagne in 1688, but historians generally agree that the British were the first to invent this bubbly drink. According to Ian Lendler in his book, Alcoholica Esoterica, the French actually considered the fizziness a problem, nicknaming champagne "devil wine" as glass bottles would explode and send glass flying, and monks had to wear iron masks to protect themselves.

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While there are many forerunners to the sandwich, the first written record of the word "sandwich" appeared in 1762. Around this time, John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was a member of the exclusive Beef Steak Club in London, a gentleman's gaming club. Montague spent long hours gambling at the restaurant and often refused to get up to eat. He requested his valet to bring him his meat between two slices of bread, and others would request "the same as Sandwich". Hence, the first "sandwich" was created - two slices of toasted bread hugging a piece of salt beef.

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Coca-Cola was invented by Dr. John Stith Permberton in 1886, when a new prohibition law in Atlanta forced Dr. Pemberton to rebrand his "French Wine Coca" and sweeten the drink with sugar instead of wine. Dr. Pemberton pitched the product as medicinal with "tonic and nerve stimulant properties" excellent for headache relief. It wasn't until after his death, when businessman Asa Griggs Candler widely marketed the drink as a carbonated soft drink, that the fizzy beverage took off in success.

Image Credit: Getty


In a world without chocolate chip cookies, waffle cones and potato chips, we imagine milk would be lost without its dunking partner, ice cream would be a drippy mess and lunch would never fill that crispy, salty potato sweet spot - and we refuse to accept this scary alternative that could have been had these foods never been accidently invented. Find out the surprising stories of how some of your favorite foods were created by accident.

Check out the slideshow above to discover how twelve popular eats were food mistakes gone right.

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