1. Doritos were first made at Disneyland.
Like all good things American, Doritos can trace their origins to the Happiest Place On Earth. The tasty chips were first sold in the 1950s at Casa De Fritos in Frontierland and were made of fried tortillas that otherwise would have been discarded.
2. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were invented to quell people’s sexual urges.
Masturbation was so not chic in the 1800s, and at the forefront of the anti-jacking off crusade was John Harvey Kelly. Kellogg believed foods that had a very plain flavor like his cereal could inhibit one’s desire to pet the one-eyed trouser snake.
6. A dentist invented the cotton candy machine.
File this one under “oops.” Hand-spun sugar had been a treat since medieval times, but William J. Morrison, former president of the Tennessee State Dental Association, co-patented an “electric candy machine” that produced “Fairy Floss.” To this day, dentists curse his name.
7. A janitor invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Talk about the American Dream. Richard Montañez, a janitor at a California Frito-Lay plant, thought regular Cheetos needed a bit more kick. He cooked up a batch at home and his friends and coworkers loved it. Montañez eventually pitched the idea to the company president and the rest is culinary history. Montañez now leads Multicultural Sales & Community Promotions for the company.
9. Two guys founded White Castle because America was freaking out about the meat industry.
White Castle — recently named the most influential burger of all time by Time — emphasized freshness from the get-go. The “White” was meant to evoke cleanliness in a time when Upton Sinclair’s classic The Jungle exposed Americans to the horrors of the country’s meat industry. The plan seemed to have worked — just ask Harold and Kumar.
10. The original Snapple beverage was explosive.
And that’s how the beverage company got its name. One of the company’s first products was a carbonated apple juice, but when the drink fermented the caps exploded off the bottle. The drink, named “Snapple” as an amalgam of the words “snap” and “apple,” was thought to be catchy and was adopted by the company as a whole.
11. The chocolate chip cookie was actually a mistake.
Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband ran the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts, where she cooked homestyle meals for the guests. One day while making cookies she ran out of baking chocolate and decided to use semi-sweet chocolate instead. To her surprise, the chocolate didn’t fully melt in the batter and the cookies were a hit with guests and future generations of Americans.
16. A missing chef led to the invention of nachos.
Ignacio Anaya — nicknamed “Nacho” — the maitre d’ of a Mexican restaurant, had to improvise when several military wives came to his establishment when the chef was away. His quick thinking led to the now-famous snack food.
17. Potato chips are the result of a chef’s temper tantrum.
Or so folklore goes. According to legend, a disgruntled customer at a Saratoga Springs, N.Y. restaurant sent back his fried potatoes for being cut too thick. The angry chef cut them super-thin and salted them heavily. To his surprise, the customer loved them and they became a regular menu item.
19. The guy who defeated the Texans at the Alamo is responsible for modern chewing gum.
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna also served as President of Mexico. He eventually was exiled from Mexico, but looked to raise funds to return by selling chicle (the product of sap from a Central American tree) as a substitute for rubber. Inventor Thomas Adams and his son Horatio noticed they could turn it into a chewable product, and breaths worldwide were changed forever.