The ambition of many chefs is to invent a dish that is truly original and will forever be associated with their name. How frustrating it must be, then, for those chefs who try, to find out that some of the most popular foods from around the world were discovered purely by accident. Whilst some of these foods may not be described culinary masterpieces, they certainly have become popular and well-known all around the world. Here are ten of the foods that just came about by chance.
1. The ice cream cone
Ice cream in a cone seems to taste so much better than ice cream in a dish, but up until 1904, a dish was the only thing that ice cream was served in. At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes, so a nearby waffle vendor made up some cones for him. Several other ice cream venders followed the lead, and ice cream cones were born.
2. Crepe Suzette
Whether, or not, all these legends are true, who can tell, but they do make great stories! Crepes Suzette is said to have been invented when a young waiter in Monte Carlo became distracted and burnt the sauce that he was making for the visiting Prince of Wales. It is said that the prince enjoyed the burnt offering so much that he named the dish after his companion, Suzette.
3. Chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate chip cookies were invented when a cook ran out of ingredients in a Massachusetts inn. Ruth Wakefield was supposed to be cooking a batch of chocolate cookies, but she had run out of baking chocolate. She added some smashed up chocolate bar to her cookie mix thinking it would melt, but what she ended up with chocolate chips in her cookies.
When a group of hungry women went to a restaurant called the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico and the maître d’hôtel couldn’t find the chef, so the only thing that he could do was improvise. The maître d’, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, crunched up some tostadas, covered them with cheese and grilled them. He then added a few jalapeños and served the dish as a snack. The women called the snack Nacho’s Special and the name was later shortened to Nachos.
Popsicles were invented by an eleven year old boy, Frank Epperson, in 1905. He was actually trying to make his own soda, but he left his mixture out on his porch overnight. When he returned to it in the morning, he found that it had frozen, with the stick he had been stirring it with frozen inside. The frozen pop tasted so good that he started selling his accidental invention. The local kids started to call his invention ‘pop icicles’, which later got shortened to ‘Popsicles’.
6. Potato chips
When Chef George Crum learned that a customer had sent back his fried potatoes, because they weren’t sliced thinly enough, the cook decided to get his revenge. He sliced the next batch of potatoes as thinly as he possibly could, fried and salted them, and sent them back out to the customer. The customer absolutely loved his potatoes and word soon got around about the new snack that George Crum had invented.
We can’t be sure about the precise origin of yoghurt, because it has been around for so long. It is believed, though, that yoghurt was another food that was invented by accident. It is thought that, when milk first began to be transported from one place to another, it was carried in goatskin containers. People then discovered that bacteria in the goatskins were making the milk curdle and that it was turned into yoghurt.
8. The Sandwich
The sandwich was invented by the John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, in the 1700’s. The Earl was so engrossed in a card game that he didn’t want to interrupt it to sit down and eat a meal. His solution was to ask one of his servants to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread, so that he could eat his meal with his hands.
9. Nashville hot chicken
Spicy, hot, Nashville chicken was invented by a woman seeking revenge. When Thornton Prince, a well-known womaniser of the region, was caught cheating, his jealous lover served him the extra hot chicken recipe to get her own back on him. The plan backfired when Thornton Prince liked the spicy recipe so much that he made it a speciality in his restaurant.
10. Corn flakes
Doctor John Harvey Kellogg invented corn flakes by accident in 1895. He was working in a sanatorium at the time and he, and his brother, were looking for ways to feed the patients on a healthy vegetarian diet. When he accidently let some boiled wheat go stale, he didn’t want to waste it, so he tried rolling it and found that it formed flakes, which he then toasted. The patients enjoyed the toasted flakes so much; the accident became the breakfast cereal that we know today.