By Khg808, via Wikimedia Commons
While the likes of Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal slave away in their kitchens trying to invent a new classic dish, some of the best loved foods that we enjoy today were invented completely by accident. Now, I’m not saying that some of these food inventions would make it onto the tables of fine restaurants, but they are pretty darned popular. Here are how some the world’s most popular foods and snacks that came into being, completely by chance.
1. Nachos and cheese
When a group of American servicemen’s wives turned up at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico, looking for a snack, maître d’, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, was left a bit stumped when he couldn’t find the chef. He had to think on his feet and come with a snack fast, so he broke up some tostadas, smothered them with grated cheese, added a few jalapenos, and popped them under the grill. The ladies were so impressed by the snack; they named it “Nacho’s Special”, which later got shortened to Nachos.
2. Chocolate chip cookies
The invention of chocolate chip cookies came about by a cook being forced to improvise too. In this case, it was baker Ruth Wakefield in Massachusetts who had to come up with a fast idea. She was preparing to bake a batch of chocolate cookies, when she realised that she had no cocoa powder. She improvised by breaking up a bar of chocolate and mixing the pieces into the cookie dough. When the cookies came out of the oven, the chocolate hadn’t melted in the way that she had expected and chocolate chip cookies were born.
By Evan-Amos (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
3. Potato Crisps
Potato crisps were invented when a chef got mad at a customer. When a customer returned his food to the kitchen, complaining that his fried potatoes hadn’t been sliced thinly enough, Chef George Crum made sure that the next batch was as thin as he could make them. Rather than complain about the crispy slices of potato he was served with, the customer absolutely loved them. Word spread about the fried potatoes and that was the beginning of the potato crisp.
4. Ice cream cones
A day at the seaside wouldn’t be complete without an ice-cream in a cone, but, up until the early 1900s, Ice cream was always served in a bowl. The cone came about in 1904, when an ice-cream seller ran out of bowls at the St. Louis World’s Fair. A guy running a waffle stand came to the ice-cream man’s rescue, when he rolled up some of his waffle mix for him and made it into cones. The new-fangled cones became an instant hit and other ice-cream sellers soon followed the trend.
By dumbfoundling, via Wikimedia Commons
5. Ice lollies
As you might have expected, ice lollies were invented by a child. 11 year old Frank Epperson was trying to make homemade soda pop and he left his experiment out in the garden overnight. When he went to back to it the next day, he found that the soda, with the stirring stick still in it, had frozen overnight. Epperson started selling his food invention to the local kids and called it the “pop icicle”, which was later shortened to the name “popsicle”.
6. The sandwich
It was John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who came up with the idea for the sandwich. The Earl was right in the middle of a card game and he didn’t want to stop for food. He ordered his servant to bring him some meat wrapped between two pieces of bread, so that he could eat his meal without having to break his winning streak.
7. Eton mess
There are two theories as to the origins of the messy dessert Eton mess. One says that a cook at the famous Eton school dropped a meringue dessert and decided to scoop it all back up and serve it anyway. The other legend says that Eton mess was invented when someone's pet dog sat on their picnic basket and crushed their frails meringue dessert. Either way, it was at Eton.
By Ali K (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
8. Liquorice allsorts
Liquorice Allsorts were invented by a clumsy salesman. In 1899, a salesman for the sweet maker Bassett’s was showing a tray of various sweets to a potential customer, when he dropped the lot on the floor. The customer was so impressed by the look of the mixture of sweets that bassets soon began to sell them that way.
9. Worcester sauce
Worcestershire sauce was invented by accident in the 19th century by chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins. They were attempting to recreate an Indian spicy sauce, but what they came up tasted so strong that they decided that it would be inedible, so they left sauce in a storeroom. A couple of years later, when the store room was being cleared out, they found the sauce, tried it, and found that it had matured and fermented and now tasted great.
10. Corn Flakes
The inventor of cornflakes was Doctor John Harvey Kellogg. In 1895, the doctor was looking to find inexpensive ways to feed patients at the sanatorium he was working in. He had boiled some wheat, but he let it go stale, so rather than waste it, he tried rolling the wheat and he found that it made flakes. He then toasted the flakes and served it to the patients, who loved it so much that it became a regular item in the menu.
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