Sometimes, scientists spend years inventing a product. Sometimes, it happens by accidents. We bring you the tales behind these 6 popular products that were invented by accident.
Did you know these delicious snacks were made out of spite? The story goes back all the way to 1853 in New York where George Crum, a chef was highly annoyed with a customer. The diner kept returning the thickly cut French potatoes back to the kitchen for being too soggy. Having had enough, Crum sliced the potatoes super thin, fried them all the way till they were crispy and doused them in a whole lot of salt. The trick fortunately for the world, backfired as the diner ended up loving these and thus, potato chips were born.
Oh the lovely ease of controlled fire in an instant! In 1826, John Walker, an English Chemist was preparing a mixture that would create a fire. Note, at that time, fire and explosions could be created on mixing certain mixtures together but this was certainly nowhere close to lighting it on a stick of wood. Soon, Walker found a dried lump of the mixture that he was working on, on one end of a wooden stick. As he tried to scrape it off, he accidently gave way to a flame. While Walker’s matches were vastly different from the ones we use today, it is safe to say that that was the birth of match sticks as we know today.
The world needs to collectively thank Percy Spencer for the wonder that is the microwave. During the second World War, Spencer was working with a company named Raytheon that developed microwave radar transmitters. It was when he was working around these transmitters did he notice the candy bar in his pocket melt. This was the big “Eureka” moment in the invention of microwaves.
It was forgetfulness on the part of 11-year-old Frank Epperson that the popsicles were invented. On one cold night, Epperson left out a mixture of sugary soda powder and water with a wooden stirrer still in the glass. The next morning, he woke up to a frozen treat that he devoured and soon started making for his friends. He named it an Epsicle – a play on the world icicle and his name and soon began selling it and made a business out of it. It was when he made it for his kids did the word popsicle came by which was derived from the words – pop’s icicle.
George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer and an amateur mountaineer was hiking in the woods along with his dog in 1948 when he got the idea for what we know as Velcro today. We’ve heard two versions of the story – One, burrs kept sticking to his dog during the hike and second, he noticed the burrs sticking on to his clothes – either which way, it was the burrs that caught his attention that started the journey of the invention of the Velcro. However, the large-scale popularity of Velcro didn’t come until 1960s when NASA started using it.
Before World War ll, homes were commonly heated with coal which often left soot stains on the walls. It was soap manufacturing company Kutol Products’ Joseph McViker and Noah that invented Play-Doh which was originally invented for cleaning the stains off the walls. However, after the war, natural gas slowly replaces coal to heat up homes which declined the use of the soot cleaning clay from Kutol Products. This resulted in bankruptcy for the company. However, sometime around the early 1950s, Vicker got to know of his sister, a school teacher, using the product as modelling dough in her classroom. This was enough to spark the re-invention of his soot cleaning product into the friendly kids’ product that we know of today.