Some of the world’s greatest creations were created with careful thought, planning, and execution. Others were just stumbled upon. These 8 items that you see in everyday life were of the latter variety. Kudos to their inventors for realizing what they had in front of them and turning them into these products that we still love today.
1) The Slinky
Naval engineer Richard Jones was working on building a power monitor for a battleship when he accidentally dropped one of the tension springs he was using. It then bounced around upon hitting the floor, and Jones realized that he had something. He made some adjustments to the spring and the Slinky was born.
In a fortuitous accident, Sir Alexander Fleming was conducting research on other drugs when he noticed a Petri dish containing Staphylococcus that had been mistakenly left open had been contaminated by a blue-green mold. He noticed a halo of inhibited bacterial growth around the mold a mold. Fleming extracted the mold and voila, the world had penicillin.
3) Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ruth Wakefield was the owner of the Toll House Inn. While trying to bake a batch of chocolate cookies, she ran out of bakers chocolate and instead used sweetened chocolate in the batter. The sweet chocolate stuck together but did not melt, creating chocolate chip cookies. The cookies proved extremely popular and were inhibiting Nestle’s sales. In the end, Wakefield gave Nestlé the right to use her cookie recipe and the Toll House name for one dollar and a lifetime supply of Nestlé chocolate.
4) Potato Chips
A whiny customer led to the creation of the world’s first potato chips. George Crum was the chef at the Carey Springs Moon Lake House in upstate New York when a customer ordered fried potatoes. But the customer wasn’t satisfied with the crispiness of the finished product, and told Crum so. After the meal was sent back several times, Crum became so frustrated that he intentionally sliced the potatoes too thin and over fried them. He delivered them with the expectation of a fight, but the customer loved them and requested more.
5) The Microwave Oven
Percy Spencer was conducting radar research with the Raytheon Corporation when he noticed that the the candy bar in his pocket was melting during testing. Intrigued, he put popcorn in the machine and it started to pop, and he realized that he had a great way to make food heat quickly.
Chemist Albert Hofmann was conducting research using derivatives of lysergic acid at a lab in Switzerland when he accidentally ingested some of the chemical. He had the world’s first acid trip and decided to make more.
7) Post-it notes
Spencer Silver was working on a new strong adhesive for 3M Laboratories at the time, but accidentally created an adhesive that was strong enough to lightly stick to surfaces and remove without leaving a mark. He hadn’t achieved what he set out to do, but someone at 3M realized the potential and came up with the idea to put the adhesive on a piece of paper.
In 1922, an employee at the Washburn Crosby Company accidentally spilled some of his bran gruel onto a hot stove top. When he ate it, he realized that the product was infinitely better than the slop he had been eating. He ran to his bosses with the discovery, and 36 recipe variations later the company developed a wheat flake that was strong enough to withstand packaging and shipping. The name “Wheaties” was chosen via a company-wide contest, beating out other suggestions such as “Nutties” and “Gold Medal Wheat Flakes.”