If the inventors of the following dishes were sticklers for following instructions – or really had any regard for safety at all – we’d be deprived of some of our favorite foods! Despite the shocking face-palm-worthiness of some of these inventions, we have to give some credit to the “Why the heck not?” attitudes that resulted in these awesome eats.
1) Cheese: The first cheese was created when an Arabian nomad carried milk on his journeys in a container made from an animal’s stomach lining. Along the way, the milk hardened in reaction to rennet – a naturally occurring stomach enzyme. Not being discouraged by the fact that his milk was now a warm mass of solid material, he presumably feasted upon the world’s first incredibly shady cheese.
2) Chocolate Chip Cookies: One fateful day in 1930, a little-known inn in Massachusetts ran out of baking chocolate. Not wanting to run to the store, what was Ruth Wakefield to do except shrug and break some semi-sweet chocolate chunks into her chocolate cookie dough instead? After baking, she noticed that the chocolate hadn’t mixed in with the dough and found this change to be quite delicious! This accidental innovation made her Toll House Inn a household name.
3) Corn Flakes: When Will Kellogg left a mess of stale, boiled wheat sitting out at his Battle Creek Sanitarium, he wasn’t about to let it go to waste. He tried turning the stale wheat into dough, but it ended up flaking too much. Not to be beaten, he then toasted the flakes of stale wheat into a fine crisp and let the patients eat that. As it turns out, his waste-not attitude turned out in his favor because the patients loved it! After experimenting with other grains, including corn, a new classic was born.
4) Potato Chips: When a customer at his Saratoga Springs restaurant complained that his french fries were too thick, chef George Crum knew exactly what to do. He sliced up potatoes as paper-thin as he could, sizzled them in hot grease, and poured on the salt. “That’ll show that no-good complainer what for!” he undoubtedly thought, tossing his hat on the floor. He wasn’t expecting, however, that the customer would love the chips and that these vengeful little crisps would become a massive hit.
5) Beer: In Mesopotamia, 10,000 years ago a few intrepid individuals stored their harvest grains in order to make bread. These grains became wet and fermented over time. Rather than mourning the now frothy mess of amber fermented grain and tossing it out like a reasonable person, they decided to drink it – probably in a double-dog-dare – knocking back the world’s very first brewski.
6) Sourdough: Egyptian bakers created the first sourdough in another trailblazing case of people being forgetful and leaving grains out to get wet and ferment into other strange things. This time, wild yeast spores from a nearby brewing beer stumbled over to party all over that dampened grain, eating all of its sugars, which turned the bread sour and creating carbon dioxide that made the bread rise higher. Who needs sanitary conditions when you’ve got tasty sour bread?
7) Worcestershire Sauce: John Lea and William Perrins were commissioned to recreate an Indian sauce for their colonial governor. Their sauce’s stench was so grossly powerful, they tossed it in their basement and forgot about it for 2 years. When they finally found it and noticed it didn’t stink anymore they decided, what the hey? Let’s chow down. Amazingly, time hugely improved the sauce‘s flavor and it became a huge success.
8) Coffee: The Legend of Kaldi suggests that coffee was discovered by an Abyssian or Ethopian goat herder. He noticed that his goats were acting particularly twitchy and frisky after munching on some red berries and decided to eat some. Determining that indeed, he too was twitchy and excitable, he giddily brought the berries to an imam who studied them, roasted them, and then boiled them in a batch of water.
9) Popsicles: In 1905, an entrepreneurial little 11-year-old boy with a fierce soda-making hobby left his equipment outside in the cold all night. When little Frank Epperson came out the next day, he found that that his stirring stick was frozen upright in his now solid soda. He called it the “Epsicle.” 19 years later, he patented his “epsicle,” and only renamed it “popsicle” at the urging of his kids.
10) Saccharin: In 1879, Johns Hopkins University researcher, Constantine Fahlberg didn’t wash his hands after working with chemicals in the lab. He then proceeded to eat a tasty sandwich. After munching on some of it, he noticed a weirdly sweet taste to his sandwich and realized, Hey! These chemicals are delicious! 5 years later, he obtained a patent for saccharin, and a unique place in history as the only guy who made people happier by not washing his hands before touching food.
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Photo Credits (top to bottom): Not Dabbling in Normal, Very Best Baking, Pusiva, So Good Blog, Sodahead, Wild Yeast Blog, Market Works, Coffee Shop, Babble, and Boom Chemical.