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8 Accidental Inventions People Are Crazy About

…What’s your favorite invention?

Believe it or not, many of the tools we use to treat illness, prepare food, and bring joy into our lives were created by accident. They were more of a fortunate coincidence and we are beyond grateful for that.

In the laboratory, mistakes in calculations or overlooked data might have disastrous results. Plus, they’ve already put in a lot of time, money, effort, and other resources, so you’ve got a catastrophe waiting to happen. It’s definitely not something to be proud of. But not in our case!

If you remember the things you heard about when you were in school, sometimes accidents are the best. That’s very true, because mishaps in the lab can sometimes lead to big breakthroughs, like Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity.

When it comes to making groundbreaking scientific discoveries, rule-breaking is often necessary. What’s best about our topic today is that all the inventions we’re going to talk about are actually things we all love.

Trust me when I tell you that you’re definitely crazy about these inventions created by mistake. Without further ado, let’s discover together the serendipitous origins of such world-changing innovations, as Coca-Cola, Silly Putty, and the microwave oven.

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1. Coca-Cola

  • The person who invented it: the pharmacist John Pemberton;
  • What was he trying to create: Pemberton, an Atlanta resident in the 1880s, marketed a wine and coca extract syrup under the name “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca” as a treatment for migraines and other nervous system complaints;
  • What he actually got: in 1885, when the sale of alcoholic beverages was outlawed in Atlanta, Pemberton formulated a coca-based syrup to be used in combination with carbonated water to make a new kind of beverage. This “brain tonic” named Coca-Cola was the appropriate drink for the dry 1920s.

…It’s still one of the most popular beverages in the world today! Don’t you love the sweet taste of Coca-Cola? Who can resist such a tasty invention?

2. Potato Chips

  • The one who invented the potato chips: George Crum, a man who used to work as a chef at the Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York;
  • What did he want to make: in the summer of 1853, Crum was attempting to offer a client French fries (quite a long journey from French fries to potato chips, if you ask me, but I’m very glad his expectations were different from reality);
  • What he actually created: the idea originated when a restaurant patron continually requested for his French fries to be remade with thinner and crispier potato slices. When Crum lost his patience, he cooked the potatoes until they were rock hard and chopped them into ridiculously tiny slices. The diner’s enthusiastic response took the chef by surprise and it’s one of the best things ever.

…What are your favorite potato chips? Tell me in the comments!

Photo by Rostislav_Sedlacek from

3. Microwave ovens

  • Who came up with the idea: Percy Spencer, a talented engineer who worked at Raytheon Corporation;
  • What did he want to obtain: in 1946, Spencer was working on a research project involving radar and a new vacuum tube;
  • How it came to be: the inventor was playing around with the tube when he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had begun to melt. Spencer, who had 120 patents already, took a handful of unpopped popcorn and held it in front of the machine. To no one’s surprise, they began to explode. Spencer realized he was in possession of revolutionary technology and the salvation of every lazy chef in the world.

…I have no idea how many lazy chefs he actually managed to save, but I know for sure that I love my microwave oven! I think is one of the best inventions ever! What about you?

4. Cornflakes

  • The ones who created cornflakes: John and Will Kellogg, considered by many as morning cereal moguls;
  • What were they thinking: the 2 brothers wanted to come up with something special for their customers, and they were thinking of boiling grain to make granola. But again, the expectations were way different from reality;
  • The cereal they obtained in the end: in 1898, the brothers unintentionally left a pot of cooked grain on the stove for many days, which resulted in the creation of what we know today as delicious cornflakes. The moldy combination yielded a dry, dense end product that had a big potential. Through trial and error, they were able to eliminate the mold and produce cornflakes. I’m forever grateful for that!

5. The Slinky

  • Who’s the inventor: Richard Jones, a navy engineer;
  • What was he thinking of creating: in 1943, Jones set out to develop a meter to track energy use aboard battleships;
  • What the inventor actually developed: Richard Jones was assembling tension springs when one of them accidentally hit the floor. Just like those moments when inventors are inspired by many things around them, Jones had an idea. His thoughts helped him put together the base of a new toy, which was created when a dropped spring continued to bounce around the room.

…Have you ever played with a Slinky? What do you think about this invention? 

Photo by Pasakorn Hansetagan from

6. Chocolate-chip cookies

  • The one who came up with the idea: Toll House Inn owner, Ruth Wakefield;
  • What was she looking for: Wakefield just wanted to bake a batch of chocolate cookies, and she wanted the dough to be fully chocolaty, so completely brown;
  • What was the end result: this invention came about in 1930, when Wakefield was making some soft and delicious cookies but ran out of baker’s chocolate. She didn’t want to forget about her amazing recipe, so she decided to make a simple switch.
  • The inn owner used bits of sweetened chocolate that she had broken up and mixed them into the batter as a replacement. When she tried to make chocolate cookies, she was surprised to find that the chocolate didn’t melt while she baked.

…I have no idea what you think, but in my opinion, this was one of the best mistakes that have ever happened in the kitchen! I absolutely love this invention! 

7. Silly Putty

  • Who was the inventor: James Wright, a smart man who worked as an engineer and inventor at General Electric;
  • What was he trying to obtain: the inventor’s point was that the U.S. government needed rubber during World War II in order to manufacture aircraft tires, boots for troops, and other wartime necessities. Wright was experimenting with silicon, which was very easy to find, and he used it as a rubber replacement;
  • What he obtained in the end: in 1943, while the country was still part of WW2, the engineer was experimenting with silicon oil. Somehow, Wright mixed in some boric acid and everything turned into a squishy, bouncy thing. Even though he was unable to identify a useful use for the Silly Putty he created, that same impracticality is what makes it so fun.

8. Saccharin

…This invention is like a gold mine for those who want to avoid consuming sugar! 

  • Who put the basis of this invention: Constantine Fahlberg, a man who worked as a researcher at Johns Hopkins University;
  • Fahlberg’s point: he was looking for a different use for coal tar in 1879. But was he thinking of a way to eat it? I don’t think so;
  • How the invention was brought to life: one day, after a hard day at the lab, Fahlberg came home to find his wife’s cookies unusually sweet. But his partner didn’t put more sugar than she usually did. Fahlberg noticed that when he came home, his hands were covered in the chemical he kept testing, which made the cookies seem sweeter than they should’ve been.
  • He actually discover the ingredient that would one day be known as saccharine. The scientist quickly got a patent for his invention and started making a lot of them.

…Which one of these inventions do you love the most? Tell us down below! 

…If you liked reading this article, you need to check out this one too! It’s one of the best: 5 Shocking and Odd Beauty Trends from the Past!


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