Have you ever heard of a happy accident? You know, when something unexpectedly good comes from what would otherwise be considered a mishap? Well, over the years, this has happened quite often in the food world and has created some of your favorite foods that otherwise might have never seen the light of day. Here are 10 Famous Foods Discovered By Mistake (Part 2).
10. Corn Flakes
Breakfast wouldn’t be the same today without our trusty bowl of cereal. Forget breakfast; our lives wouldn’t be the same without it. And what is one of the most famous cereals out there? Corn Flakes. We owe all the glory that are Corn Flakes to Kellog’s, as they were the first to come up with the idea. In the late 1800s, John Kellogg wanted to create a food that would be healthy for the patients of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. The objective was to create a food that was healthy, and yes, also deliberately bland. It was thought that the most simple, pure, and unstimulating diet would “clear the mind of sinful thoughts” early in the morning. Basically, to stop people from being intimate – or so it’s believed. John and his brother Will Kellogg were experimenting on such a concoction, when, one night, a batch of wheat-based cereal dough was accidentally left out for an extended period of time, and when they came back to it, it had gone stale. They discovered that the large, thin flakes became crispy and quite tasty when put in the oven. So, after a lot of trial and error, they figured out that corn, rather than wheat, produced even crunchier, crispier flakes, and corn flakes were born – and breakfast and midnight snacks haven’t been the same since.
9. Dippin’ Dots
If you’ve ever been to a mall, an amusement park, or an arena, chances are, you know what Dippin’ Dots are. These little colorful, frozen ice cream balls that melt in your mouth were invented in 1988 and have been a curious dessert staple ever since. However, what most people don’t know is that they were never meant to be a frozen ice cream treat in the first place. A microbiologist named Curt Jones had extensive knowledge on cryogenic technology and used it to create a remarkably fresh and flavorful snack – but he was originally trying to figure out a way to feed cows more efficiently. One of his methods involved flash-freezing liquid cow feed to 350 degrees below zero, which turned it into little pellets. It dawned on Jones that he could do the same thing with an ice cream base. So using liquid nitrogen, he repeated the process, and the rest is history. This is one of the reasons why you can’t find Dippin Dots just anywhere like your local grocery store. Their freezing temperature is so high that regular freezers can’t even store them properly. You would only be left with a melted mess, which would defeat the whole purpose of the tasty frozen pellets. In a way, we can thank cows for the invention of the Dippin Dots we all know and love today. While the feeding technique didn’t stick, the love for the ice cream beads sure did.
Nachos are definitely one of the most delicious and popular snack foods in America. With so many possibilities when it comes to toppings, you can pretty much make any kind of nacho you want. Today, it seems like such an obvious and natural idea to put tortilla chips together with melted cheese, because well, it’s delicious. But this dish wasn’t actually created on purpose. Its origin goes back to Mexico in the 1940s, at a restaurant called the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, a small Mexican city close to Fort Duncan, a U.S. military base in Texas. One night, a group of about a dozen U.S. military wives, whose husbands were stationed at the base, decided to stop at the Victory Club for some dinner after a long day of shopping. Even though the dinner service was over, Ignacio “Nacho” Anay, the man of the hour, took pity on them and scraped together whatever he had left in his kitchen. He sliced and fried some tortillas and covered them with some shredded cheddar cheese. He then added sliced jalapeños on top before putting it in the oven for it to broil. The ladies obviously loved the inventive dish and named it after him – the “Nachos Especiales” – which was eventually shortened to nachos. The dish is now a staple in many parts of the world, including the United States. While nachos are technically from Mexico, thereby making it a Mexican dish, it was made to accommodate the American palate. And even though we’ve made some considerable alterations to the original nachos, like the addition of nacho cheese, for instance, we can’t claim the credit; it was all Ignacio’s work.
Like many other great and iconic inventions, Slurpees were discovered thanks to pure dumb luck. This 7-Eleven-exclusive frozen concoction was created in the 1950s in Kansas City by the owner of an old Dairy Queen. Omar Knedlik’s machinery was always breaking down, and one day, his soda fountain went out. In a panic, he had to improvise and decided to put the remaining soda in the freezer to keep them cool. However, he left them a little too long, and when he came back, the sodas had frozen a little and became slushy. What sounds like the beginning of a disaster is actually the beginning of what would become one of the most brilliant successes. People couldn’t get enough of the stuff and started asking for the sodas to be even more frozen. Knedlik then invented a machine in the back room using a car’s air conditioning unit to combine and freeze a flavor mix, water, and carbon dioxide to make it fizz, which he called the Icee dispenser. With a separate spout for each flavor and a tumbler to keep the contents from becoming frozen solid, the machine was perfected. A couple of years later, 7-Eleven saw just how promising this machine was, bought one for every one of their locations, and dubbed the product a Slurpee. Today, Slurpees are one of the most well-known drinks in the world, and you can enjoy one almost anywhere and anytime.
If there’s one Mexican dish that everyone needs to try at least once in their lives, it’s chimichangas. It’s usually served as an appetizer and includes a tortilla filled with a meat or bean mixture, typically deep-fried to make it crispy on the outside. It’s essentially a deep-fried burrito, which is something almost anyone can get on board with. As any good invention story goes, there’s more than one person claiming to be the original creator of the chimichanga. A restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, insists that Woody Johnson was the one who came up with the recipe first, saying he would put unsold burritos into the deep fryer as a way to experiment with different flavors. However, the strongest and most believable story dates back to the 1920’s from Monica Flin of El Charro Cafe, a Tuscon restaurant. She says she accidentally dropped a burrito into a frying pan, and as the oil splashed all over, she was about to lash out a common Spanish cuss word starting with ‘Ch’. But because there were children present, she changed it to ‘Chimichanga,’ the Spanish equivalent of “thingamajig,” hence the name. Chimichangas are now an important part of Tex-Mex cuisine, and no matter who invented them, they’re here to stay.
Yogurt is probably one of the foods we can eat at pretty much any time of the day. It’s also one of the foods that have been around forever without us even realizing it. Indeed, the discovery of yogurt allegedly dates back all the way to the sixth century BC. Central Asian goat herdsmen would store their extra goat milk in containers made out of animal stomachs, to preserve it while on the go. Since yogurt is made by adding bacteria and enzymes to milk – and in animal stomachs, there is plenty of that to go around – the circumstances were more than ideal. The herdsmen noticed that the milk would turn thick and tart, and most importantly, would still be edible – even after long periods spent in the hot sun. It was everything they could’ve asked for: a concoction that would last over long travels and stay fresh longer than milk – thus, yogurt was born. Eventually, with time, it would reach its logical pinnacle: frozen yogurt. An even tastier treat to fight that summer nights’ heat, the right away. So, next time you eat a nice bowl of yogurt, remember how it’s all thanks to animal stomachs and determination that you get to enjoy this flavorful mixture.
4. Toasted Ravioli
In Italy, pasta cooked any other way than al dente is usually considered unacceptable. And thinking about frying it? There’s no way that would fly. However, in St-Louis, and basically anywhere in America these days, frying a very special type of pasta has become quite the hit – and it was all done by mistake. Toasted ravioli – or T-rav as locals call it – is a ravioli that’s both breaded and fried in oil with either a meat or cheese filling. It has an extremely crunchy exterior and a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese, all served with a side of tomato sauce. Toasted ravioli – or more like deep-fried ravioli, as it is not baked in an oven – has become quite the revered sensation in St-Louis and a source of pride and joy. While there’s no arguing it was born in a kitchen in St-Louis, but there is some disagreement as to whose kitchen invented it first. The only thing we know for sure, is that it was invented in the 1940s, and it was a complete accident. The owner of Oldani’s claims that his tipsy cook accidentally dropped some ravioli in the fryer and, in an attempt to salvage them, grated some parmesan cheese on top. But over at Angelo’s, the owner claims that an untrained waiter told a cook to drop the ravioli in oil instead of water, and the list of possibilities goes on. When you’ve got something that successful on your hands, it’s simply a foregone conclusion that people will fight over who the rightful owner is. One thing is for sure, though, toasted ravioli is definitely something to be proud of.
Ah, tofu. A vegetarian’s best friend and a meat-lover’s funniest joke. Kind of like yogurt, tofu was discovered with the help of milk, but this time, it was soy milk. Tofu was allegedly discovered about 2000 years ago in China, but no one seems to agree on the real story. Some stories say that a Chinese cook dropped a coagulant named nigari into a pot of soy milk, which curdled it. Others claim that boiled, ground soybeans were accidentally mixed with impure sea salt – which contained a lot of calcium and magnesium salts, causing them to gel. Today, however, it is made by curdling fresh soy milk, pressing it into a block, and then cooling it – similar to how cheese is made. No matter how tofu was originally made, it was now a thing and quickly spread all across Asia. It didn’t reach America for a very long time, though, and it wasn’t until the early 1900s that tofu made its debut on our shores. It didn’t reach its booming fame until the 1970s. With a growing Asian population, and a desire to satisfy an interest in vegetarianism, natural food, and less wasteful food sources, these factors brought us the tofu we – almost all – know and love today.
2. Tarte Tatin
It’s not everyone who is familiar with this delicious, rich French delicacy. Tarte Tatin is an upside-down apple tart made with caramelized apples and a lot of butter and sugar. It’s a classic dessert in France, and it has slowly made its way to other surrounding countries. Tarte Tatin was accidentally created by two sisters, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin, who ran a hotel about 100 miles outside of Paris called Hotel Tatin in the late 1800s. Stephanie was the one in charge of most of the cooking, while Caroline handled the rest of the business. One day, as Stephanie was preparing a good old traditional apple pie, she overcooked the apples, nearly burning them. The sugar and butter had formed an interesting crust, and to prevent the apples from burning even more in the oven, she added the pie crust on top of them. She then served it upside-down, and to her big surprise, people loved it. What was an epic fail turned into a huge hit and became the hotel’s signature dessert – and one of France’s signature dishes as well. Today, you can pretty much make Tarte Tatin with any fruit you’d like, such as peaches, pears, and pineapple, as long as you have turned it upside down and served with a generous amount of ice cream or a tangy crème fraîche.
Raisins are probably one of the things that are almost universally hated in America. Even when you try to dip them in chocolate, it’s risky business. It makes people believe that maybe this accidental invention should’ve been ruled just as an accident and nothing more. But either way, raisins are here now, so we might as well try to enjoy them. To produce only 1 ton of raisins, you need about 4 tons of grapes treated with a lye solution. It is believed that raisins were first discovered when humans stumbled upon a crop of dried grapes. While the exact year in which this discovery was made is still debated, most history books note that raisins were sun-dried from grapes as long ago as 1490 B.C. But, the first commercial raisin crop is said to have materialized in California in 1873 as a hot spell withered the grapes on the vines. An enterprising San Francisco grocer advertised these shriveled grapes as “Peruvian Delicacies,” leading to their first accidental commercial use. Fun facts: half of the world’s supply of raisins are grown in California and the state is now the world’s leading producer of raisins. Oh, and April 30th is National Raisin Day. Raisins might not be the most beloved food here, but in many countries, it’s an essential part of daily diets, so really, how bad can they actually be?