1. Potato Chips
George Crum, a renowned chef in the mid-1800’s, didn’t take kindly to criticism. When a patron sent his potatoes back to the kitchen, saying that they were too thick, soggy and bland - Crum said AW HELL NAW and gave the man what he thought would be a vile plate of potatoes. He cut them super thin, fried them senseless, and added a ridiculous amount of salt. The patron ended up loving them, because duh. They’re fried, crunchy taters.
2. Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham
After demolishing the children’s book market with his clever and poignant writing style, Dr. Seuss’ publisher, Bennett Cerf, set a bet with modest stakes. Fifty bucks. Fifty bucks that Dr. Seuss couldn’t write a book in 50 words. Then Green Eggs & Ham happened. Long story short, that fifty dollars spawned the fourth best-selling children’s book of all time.
Play-doh wasn’t always a fun toy for kids to play with. It was originally created as a cleaning product to rub the soot off wallpaper (of all things)! The company was about to go bankrupt until a schoolteacher got ahold of their product, and now children play with it. One man’s cleaning product is another man’s dough!
If you’ve ever had strep throat, you’re probably familiar with Penicillin. Used as an extremely common antibiotic today, it was actually Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming’s tendency to not clean up after himself that sparked its discovery. After leaving a petri dish full of Staphylococcus exposed overnight, he noticed the strange way in which the mold had grown, which led to the eventual discovery of penicillin. So next time you think about tackling the dirty dishes in your sink, reconsider. For science.
5. Post Its
Contrary to popular belief, Romy and Michelle (of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion) did not invent post its. It was a guy named Arthur Fry, and it all happened when some guy failed at developing a strong adhesive for the aerospace industry. Art saw the potential in the weak glue, however, and now you can annotate things without damaging them. THANKS, ART.
6. Microwave Oven
When a radar technician named Percy LeBaron Spencer was working on the development of a magnetron, he noticed that the bar of chocolate in his pants pocket had melted. He eventually channeled this accidental discovery into a method for you to put hot pockets in your face. A true American hero.
Popsicles used to be called Eppsicles, did you know that? In 1905, an 11-year-old kid named Frank Epperson was mixing some flavored powder and water to make a type of soda - and evidently he got bored, because he straight up left the full cup outside overnight with the mixing stick still in there. The next day, he found that the beverage had frozen around the stick, and that the effect wasn’t half bad. Twenty years later, his kids convinced him to change the name to popsicle, and the rest is history.
8. Isaac Newton’s Principia
40 shillings was all it took to light a fire under Isaac Newton’s butt. After a colleague challenged him to figure out why planets move the way they do (40 shillings if he could figure it out in under 2 months), Newton got to work and ended up publishing Principia - largely regarded today as one of the most important scientific texts of all time.
9. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ruth Graves, an inn owner in 1930, made the colossal mistake of running out of baker’s chocolate to make her famous chocolate cookies. Improvising, she threw some Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips into the batter, assuming that the chips would melt when baked and spread throughout the dough. Not so. They stayed in tact, and America’s favorite cookie was born. And what did Ruth ask for, in exchange for Nestle putting her recipe on the back of their chocolate chip bags? A lifetime supply of chocolate, obviously.