While naval engineer Richard James was attempting to create a meter to monitor power on battleships, one of the tension springs he was working with fell to the ground. Then it did it again. And again, and again. Just bouncin’. And its descendants followed in its footsteps—or rather, slinks.
2. Chocolate Chip Cookies
God bless Ruth Wakefield. Well, and the fact that she ran out of baker’s chocolate and instead had to break up sweetened chocolate and throw it in with her cookie dough. She thought the chocolate would melt and the cookies would become just chocolate cookies, but there was a higher purpose.
3. Silly Putty
During WWII, GE engineer James Wright set out to make a rubber substitute for silicon, as the stuff was running out. During the testing process, however, he added one wrong element and he ended up with a bouncy, gooey blob. It didn’t help build rubber tires, but it sure as heck helped pass the time.
4. Potato Chips
One day George Crum, a chef in Saratoga Springs, was dealing with a particularly unruly customer whose desire for fried potatoes could simply NOT be satisfied. In a flash of fury, George sliced the potatoes so thin and fried them so deeply that he thought the customer would leave—but he actually loved them. And we do too.
Percy Spencer, while doing some casual radar research, ended up inventing the microwave. He was working with a device with a vacuum tube enclosure, and while testing it out, he noticed that the candy bar in his pocket melted. Curious, he threw some popcorn into the machine and it began to pop—and bam.
His pants were ruined though.
Originally invented as a means to clean coal residue off wallpaper, after WWII natural gas took the place of coal as the main way people heated their homes, and the clay modeling compound we know as “Play-Doh” was left in a tight space. That is, until a nephew of the inventor discovered that school children were using it to make Christmas ornaments.
You’ve surely heard a lot of things about how Coca-Cola was invented, but what you probably didn’t know is that it was originally created by an Atlanta pharmacist by the name of John Pemberton, who was seeking a cure for headaches. He just threw a ton of ingredients in there (still no one knows what they all were) and though it’s unclear how many headaches were solved by the concoction, eight years later people realized it was a pretty good drink on its own.
1905. San Francisco. 11-year-old Frank Epperson was enjoying a summer’s day outside and decided to mix himself a soda using powdered flavoring. He forgot about it, though, and left it out over night with the stirring stick still in it. When he remembered it in the morning, the soda was frozen to the stick and the Popsicle was born.
About 2000 years ago, an unknown (but clearly awesome) Chinese dude “accidentally” mixed sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter together and then inexplicably put the highly volatile contents into a bamboo tube, which exploded. Whatever he was doing, thanks for helping us celebrate the good times, guy.