Accidents, shortages, misunderstandings, spoilage and more. All these events caused the unintended discovery and creation of many popular foods, beverages, snacks and condiments used today. Here is a list of five such products and the circumstances under which they were created.
Originally intended to be: dyspepsia medicine
In 1886, a pharmacist by the name of John Pemberton set out to develop a new medicine to relieve dyspepsia. After several months of trials, he created a blend that he believed to be nearly perfect. Since the medicine was to be drunk mixed with water, Pemberton had his assistant mix up a batch and drink it to test it’s effectiveness. His assistant reported that it was effective…and very pleasant to the taste. Next, Pemberton had the assistant test its effectiveness in carbonated water. When he tried this new combination, the assistant was so overcome by the taste of the medicine that he mixed a batch with carbonated water and ice for Pemberton to taste. He agreed that it was the best tasting medicine that he knew of… much too good to be medicine. John Pemberton decided instead to market his product as a beverage. He named it a fragment of its intended use: dyspepsia.
Originally intended to be: starch-free bread
John Harvey Kellogg was chief medical officer at the Battle Creek Health Clinic in 1894. As head of this Seventh Day Adventist establishment, Kellogg encouraged strict dietary rules which he found to be extremely beneficial to the health of clients. Many of his patients found that his dietary confinements were far to plain and unpalatable. So John Harvey and his brother William set out to create what he thought would be a healthy, starch free bread. To remove the starch, the brothers boiled the wheat and then attempted to press it into a doughy consistency with a roller. However this was extremely unsuccessful and ended up making a huge mess. One afternoon while they were working on this frustrating project, the brothers were called away suddenly on important business. When they returned two days later, their boiled wheat was stale and moldy. Certain that the results would be the same as always, John Harvey decided to run it through the roller anyway. To his infinite surprise and delight, the grains flattened individually and did not stick to the roller. After more experiments with different (and fresh) grains the Kelloggs found a way to reproduce the effect. In time, they opened a company to market their product and introduced the world to this popular breakfast cereal.
Originally intended to be: insecticide
In 1976, two researchers at a London University experimented with their newly developed insecticide. The experiments went well and multiple tests were conducted. One day the head researcher, a native of India, told his assistant to test the latest formula. However, because of his heavy accent, the assistant misinterpreted his words as “taste it”. On doing so, he found it to be sweet. He relayed this information to the head scientist, he was shocked that his assistant would taste a toxic chemical. However after seeing no visible harm to his assistant, the scientist went so far as to sweeten his coffee with it. When the men presented their findings to the university, the use of the chemical compound sucralose as an artificial sweetener was born.
An ice-cream salesman, Charles Mendes, and a pastry vendor, Ernest Hamwi, are credited with the invention of the ice cream cone. It came about one hot June day in 1904, when Mendes was doing brisk business at a fair. In fact, business was so brisk that by noon he was out of the dishes that he sold his ice cream on. Unwilling to lose half a day’s business, he began to look about for a solution. His eye fell on the pastry vendor in the stall next to his. The vendor, Hamwi, agreed to help Mendes by fashioning his dough into thin wafer cones that could hold the frozen treat. These first ice cream cones were immensely popular with children at the fair that afternoon, and have been ever since.
Originally: Fried potato slices
When, in 1853, a dissatisfied dinner guest at his Sarasota Springs, New York restaurant sent back his order of fried potato slices, head chef George Crumb was furious. The customer claimed that they were far from crisp enough for him. In a sarcastic rage, Crum decide to create some of the worst tasting slices of all time. He sliced the potatoes paper thin, sprinkled them thickly with salt, and fried the to a crisp. When the new order was presented to the customer, instead of the annoyance that Crum had hoped to produce, these chips were a hit with the customer. All the other guests at the restaurant ordered them and they gave their compliments. Crum made the potato chip a specialty at his restaurant and it has been a popular snack food around the world since.