People are always chasing after the next big thing, and sometimes, it falls on your lap without even knowing it. From household crispy potato chips to life saving Penicillin, all kinds of famous and revolutionary things have come to be thanks only to a sleight of hand or a twist of fate. Inventors are a dime a dozen, but these ones definitely lucked out!
Here are some of the most famous accidental inventions!
1. Play doh
The sticky toy was originally marketed as a wall cleaner that didn’t work so well. Luckily, kids started using the product to make little sculptures, and before long, the fledgling company was making waves as a children’s toy staple.
2. Potato chips
A story that would make it onto countless food forums today, Potato chips were accidentally invented when an annoying customer kept asking a restaurant to make his French fries thinner and crispier. George Crum, the chef, sliced them wafer thin as a joke, but the guy loved them and the potato chip was born!
3. Microwave oven
Percy Spencer was experimenting with a radar related vacuum tube when a candy bar in his pocket started melting. Utilising this new knowledge, he patented the microwave. What a lucky accident!
Spencer Silver discovered a ‘low tack’ adhesive in 1968 for which he found no use. Art Fry was frustrated with not having sticky notes for his church books. Combining their heads, they launched post-its in 1980. Fridges have never looked the same since.
John and Will Kellogg (Yeah, they were actual people) discovered the staple breakfast cereal when they accidentally left a pot of boiled grain on the stove for a number of days.
Sir Alexander Fleming only discovered the wonder medicine after giving up on his medical experiments. He noticed a mold on an old petri dish which was breaking down bacteria around it. Growing the mould himself, he discovered that it contained the antibiotic Penicillin, and history was made.
Richard Jones, a naval engineer, was experimenting with tension springs for battle ships when one of them dropped to the floor. It kept flopping around, as slinkies are prone to do. Jones got rich and kids everywhere now enjoy stairs a lot more.
8. Non Stick Pans – Teflon
Chemist Roy Plunkett was trying to create a new form of CFCs (God knows why), but instead created some mysterious white flakes. These turned out to be the high melting point lubricant now consistently applied to all non stick pans. Easy omelettes for all!
Albert Hofmann (who some of you may know of) was working in his lab with a derivative of the fungus ergot when he started experiencing strange mental and physical sensations. Unbeknownst to him, he was experiencing the first acid trip in history. Soon after, the floodgates opened and everyone started tuning in and dropping out, so to speak.
British Pharmacist John Walker was stirring his chemicals when he noticed a dried lump on the end of his stirring stick. Trying to scrape it off, it invariably sparked a flame, and the idea struck him to convert these to proper matchsticks.
11. Safety Glass
Chemist Édouard Bénédictus was working in his lab when a glass flask dropped on the floor but didn’t shatter into several pieces. This was because the inside happened to be lined with plastic cellulose nitrate. He patented it and it is now used in all cars as well as gas masks and the like.