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Amazing Accidental Inventions - How Did They Happen?

A Botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys researching and writing about topics that interest her.

Many inventions have happened by sheer accident. Without these accidents, we will not have many things that we enjoy today. Accidental Inventions have contributed significantly towards making the whole experience of living life an enjoyable one.

Presenting some of the most "Amazing Accidental Inventions" -

George Crum

George Crum

Potato Chips

George Crum was a chef at the Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York. Crum was an excellent chef and was very proud of his cooking. In 1853, a guest at the Moon Lake House complained that Crum’s fried potatoes were too thick and soggy. This compliant was an insult and a blow to the Chef’s pride.

Just as an act of revenge for complaining against his potato fries, Crum decided that he would do just the opposite. He sliced the potatoes very thin and fried it till it was very crisp. Crum then sprinkled a lot of salt over his fries, thinking that the guest who complained will hate the dish. To Crum’s great surprise, the guest loved the thin potato fries, and he ordered a second serving.

Crum’s thin crispy potato fries were named the “Saratoga Chips.” This became a hit across New England, and Crum opened his restaurant. Today we all enjoy Crum’s version of the potato chips.

Ruth Graves Wakefield

Ruth Graves Wakefield

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband Kenneth owned a Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Mrs.Wakefield cooked for the inn’s guests.

One day in 1930, Wakefield ran short of her “Butter Drop Do Cookies.” These cookies were very popular with her guests, and she was worried that her guests would be very upset if they did not have their favorite cookies.

Wakefield took a bar of Nestle’s unsweetened chocolate and broke it into tiny bits, and mixed them into the cookie batter. She thought that the chocolate would melt as the cookie was baked; this did not happen; when she took the baked cookies out of the oven, she noticed that the chocolate bits had melted only slightly in the cookies.

The guests loved the cookies. Wakefield’s Chocolate chip cookies became a big success. Today we enjoy different versions of Wakefield’s chocolate chip cookies.


Microwave Oven

Percy Spencer was responsible for the accidental invention of the microwave oven. Percy Spencer was a leading scientist during World War II and was on a visit to Raytheon company. During that visit, Percy Spencer was standing in front of a magnetron and noticed that the candy bar in his pocket had melted due to the heat.

Percy Spencer decided to use corn kernels and see what happened when subjected to heat from the magnetron. After further experiments with other foods, Percy Spencer designed a machine with the same technology that came to be known as the microwave.

John Harvey Kellog

John Harvey Kellog


Will Keith John Kellogs was responsible for the accidental invention of Cornflakes. He used to assist his brother, who was a doctor at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. They used to work with the patients, formulate their diet, and worked on creating better meal plans.

While Will Keith John Kellogs was making bread dough, he accidentally left the boiled wheat outside for several hours. When he returned to roll the ingredient into a dough, he found that it had become flaky. John Kellogs was curious to know what would happen to the wheat flakes if he baked them.

When he baked the dried wheat flakes, they turned into a crunchy, flaky snack. The patients were given this snack, and they all loved it. After the success of the crunchy snack with the patients, John Kellogs improved the recipe and modified it to be produced on a large scale.

He launched "The Battle Creek Toasted Cornflakes Company" in 1906. Today the company is known as the Kellogs Corn Flakes.

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Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming


Penicillin was invented by accident by Alexander Fleming from Scotland. Alexander Fleming was a bacteriologist.

One day, Alexander Fleming returned to his lab after a two-week vacation. He noticed in one of his Petri dishes there was a mold of unknown origin growing well and that the bacteria introduced initially into the petri dish did not grow.

Alexander Fleming isolated the mold, classified, and described it. He tried to grow the mold on a large scale for killing harmful bacteria, but he was not able to do so.

Nearly 13 years after Fleming’s accidental findings, Howard Florey, Norman Heatley, and Andrew Moyer conducted more research on Alexander Fleming’s findings. They replaced the mold grown by Fleming with a better one (Penicillin) produced in large quantities for medical treatment. From then on, Penicillin has been and is still being used around the world for treatment.

Artificial Sweetners

Artificial Sweetners

Artificial Sweetener - Saccharin

Saccharin, the Latin word for sugar, was discovered in 1879 by Constantin Fahlberg in the laboratory of Ira Remsen at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He was working with coal tar derivative benzoic sulfimide in the lab, and that day before his lunch, he forgot to wash his hands.

While he ate his lunch, he tasted something sweet on his fingers. He later linked the sweet taste with a compound that he named "Saccharin."

Saccharin acted as an artificial sweetener in the place of sugar. Fahlberg and Remsen soon developed a synthesis of Saccharin from o-sulfamoylbenzoic acid. In the mid-1800s, Fahlberg began to manufacture Saccharin in Germany.

Dental Anesthesia

Dental Anesthesia


Crawford Long, William Morton, Charles Jackson, and Horace Wells contributed to the Anesthesia used today in the medical field for surgical procedures. Anesthesia numbs the pain and is used before any surgical procedure.

Crawford Long, William Morton, Charles Jackson, and Horace Wells realized that ether and nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, inhibited pain.

In 1844, Horace Wells noticed that a participant in the exhibition he was attending did not feel any pain when he injured his leg. Horace Wells also noticed that the participant was under the influence of nitrous oxide(laughing gas) when he was injured.

After this discovery, Wells, Morton, and Jackson collaborated and started to use them (ether and nitrous oxide) as anesthesia to kill pain in dental practices. Crawford Long used them in minor surgeries. From then on, anesthesia became a vital part of surgeries.


Business Insider-Accidental Inventions That Changed The World

Best Accidental Inventions - InventionLand

Reader's Digest - Ten Accidental Discoveries That Changed the World

© 2013 Nithya Venkat


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on October 23, 2020:

Thank you for your visit Allen.

Allen garbutt on October 23, 2020:

thanks to these men that invented the anesthesia this was used on me in the operating room in Belize the former British colony.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 18, 2020:

Thank you for your visit and comment Audrey. I am glad you got to know about these inventions.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 16, 2020:

Ive always had a curiosoty about inventions. Very interesting article. I didnt know about potato chips and the microwave. Thanks!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 16, 2016:

RTalloni thank you for your visit and comment. Life is amazing, we do not know what will happen next as you say.

RTalloni on April 15, 2016:

These accidental inventions remind me that it pays to pay attention! A neat read that helps us remember that we never know what will happen next!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on January 04, 2016:

ladyguitarpicker thank you and yes great things do happen for all of us.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on January 03, 2016:

Some great things happen for all of us. This was a very interesting article. Thanks for the information.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on October 20, 2015:

Reynold Jay thank you for your visit.

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on October 19, 2015:

Well now! Lots of fascinating inventions that makes one want to get creative and explore a bit. Keep the gems coming.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 22, 2014:

word55 thank you for stopping by.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on September 22, 2014:

Good to know awesome info! Thank you for sharing.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 16, 2014:

Inspired Heart thank you, yes you are so right.

Yvette Stupart from Jamaica on April 15, 2014:

Thanks for the information. Many of the items we use everyday, yet to think that these were accidental inventions!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 26, 2014:

Nadine May thank you and am glad you found my hub informative. It is sad that they feed cornflakes instead of a wholesome meal. Thank you for stopping by.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on March 25, 2014:

Wow Wow! What a great and entertaining read. I,m so glad that I found hubpages 6 month ago. This was a very informative hub for me. I was only aware of two stories. Penicillin and Cornflakes. For me Cornflakes is not food, but they feed it in S.A to hungry schoolchildren, which is very sad. It's a marketing scheme.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 23, 2014:

Millionaire Tips thank you for your visit and yes it is indeed amazing.

Shasta Matova from USA on February 22, 2014:

It is interesting how so many inventions arise from accidents. This was very informative - I knew about the corn flakes, but I hadn't heard about the rest.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 02, 2014:

Chitrangada Sharan thank you, am glad you enjoyed.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 01, 2014:

Amazing and interesting information! I enjoyed going through. Thanks!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 01, 2014:

vocalcoach very sorry about the loss of your mother, son and best friend to cancer. I really pray that people with cancer can be completely cured.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on February 01, 2014:

This cause is veryc close to me as my own mother and my beautiful son were taken from this nasty cancir, I also lost my best friend with cancer.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on December 05, 2013:

Jodah thank you and am glad you enjoyed.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 05, 2013:

Vellur, very informative.

I enjoyed this. The only ones I knew of were Fleming and Kellogg. Well done.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on December 03, 2013:

nighthag thank you, am glad you enjoyed.

K.A.E Grove from Australia on December 02, 2013:

A fun informing read :) thanks so much

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 24, 2013:

Mike Robbers thank you and am so glad you came to know about them.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 24, 2013:

Mike Robbers thank you and am so glad you came to know about them.

Mike Robbers from London on November 24, 2013:

Very nice hub Vellur, i wasn't aware of some of them so i found it very interesting and educational!!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 18, 2013:

teaches12345 yes am glad too, thank you for your visit.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 18, 2013:

teaches12345 yes am glad too, thank you for your visit.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 18, 2013:

teaches12345 yes am glad too, thank you for your visit.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 18, 2013:

teaches12345 yes am glad too, thank you for your visit.

Dianna Mendez on November 18, 2013:

All of these inventions are priceless and so glad that someone provided them for us, especially the chocolate chips.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 18, 2013:

vaneet2310 thank you for stopping by and yes I totally agree WOW!!

ChristyWrites thank you for stopping by, I love the cornflakes and chocolate chip cookies!!

calrames very true, people can't see opportunities even when it is in front of their faces.

Jackie Lynnley yes I can't imagine life without anesthesia. Thank you for reading.

Victoria Lynn thank you for stopping by. Yes the chocolate chip is amazing.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on November 17, 2013:

This is awesome--especially the story about the chocolate chip cookies!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on November 17, 2013:

So interesting! Now what would we do in life without any of these! Especially the anesthesia. Ouch. ^

carlarmes from Bournemouth, England on November 17, 2013:

These inventors were searching for a solution for one thing and found the answer for something else, they had open minds that allowed them to see opportunities when they crossed their path, many people can't see opportunities even when it is in front of their faces.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on November 17, 2013:

I had no idea that these inventions were accidental! Thanks Vellur :) I like the cornflakes part the best - very cool to learn!

vaneet2310 on November 17, 2013:

Wow...I was not aware of these accidents. Really interesting.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 16, 2013:

Eiddwen thank you.

Eiddwen from Wales on November 16, 2013:

Great hub Vellur.


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 15, 2013:

Careermommy thank you am glad you learned a lot.

vocalcoach I cannot imagine all the pain without anesthesia. Thank you for stopping by.

WiccanSage thank you for reading.

Mackenzie Sage Wright on November 15, 2013:

I could kiss these people. Who'd have thought they were accidents? Cool hub.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on November 14, 2013:

Love this! While I'm thankful for all of these inventions, my hat goes off to the group for coming up with anesthesia. Can you imagine having surgery or painful dental procedures without it? Thanks so much. Audrey

Tirralan Watkins from Los Angeles, CA on November 14, 2013:

Wow, what an amazing hub! I sure learned a lot.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 14, 2013:

Nell Rose thank you for your visit and the share.

mythbuster thank you. These inventions are really great!

DreamerMeg thank you.

tillsontitan thank you. You said it right, these inventions are delightful and tasty!

Levertis Steele thank you.

my_girl_sara thank you.

idigwebsites thank you.

Kristine Manley thank you.

CraftytotheCore thank you, these inventions are really interesting!

CraftytotheCore on November 14, 2013:

Such interesting facts! The potato chip story is so interesting as well as the cookie recipe. Isn't it great how anesthesia became to exist.

Kristine Manley from Atlanta, GA on November 14, 2013:

What a cool Hub! I love this.

idigwebsites from United States on November 14, 2013:

We thank all those culinary, scientific and medical geniuses for the yummy foods, tools for convenience and life-saving medicines. We're glad that they discovered and invented these things by accident. :)

Cynthia Lyerly from Georgia on November 14, 2013:

Love it!

Levertis Steele from Southern Clime on November 14, 2013:

Awesome accidents!

Mary Craig from New York on November 14, 2013:

Great collection of accidental inventions! After reading this wonderful hub I'm wondering just how many more there are. So, not only have you educated us but I'm sure you've piqued curiosity to learn more.

Thank you for this delightful education, and tasty too!

Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 14, 2013:

I knew about penicillin but not about the others. Really interesting!

mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on November 14, 2013:

Hello Vellur,

A great hub. I only knew about the Cornflakes invention before reading your article. Wow, a number of really important inventions - by accident! (health care items) and some really tasty inventions, too (cornflakes, potato chips, choco-chip (Tollhouse?) cookies - yum). Thanks for researching on these accidental inventions/discoveries and sharing with us.

Nell Rose from England on November 14, 2013:

Hi vellur, that was fascinating! I knew about the antibiotics, but not how the microwave came into being or even crisps/potato chips etc, wonderful! voted up and hub shared, nell

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 14, 2013:

DDE thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 14, 2013:

Amazing Accidental Inventions great inventions indeed and are so useful to all you have created an informative and useful hub on this topic.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 13, 2013:

always exploring thank you so much, you made my day!!

alancaster149 thank you for your visit and sharing so much of information with us.

lone77star thank you for reading. Am sure Mr. Crum was on top of the world!

Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on November 13, 2013:


It takes a little humility to be able to learn from such accidents. I hope Mr. Crum was grateful when his "revenge" turned out to be popular. Mustn't let ego spoil something wonderful. ;)

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on November 13, 2013:

Some of the best things are come about accidentally. What you call 'chips' are crisps over here. We used to have factories that just produced crisps and nothing else. Nowadays the market is concentrated in the hands of a few big names like Walkers and Golden Wonder. There are other makers, and they sell well enough outside their own region to merit sitting on Supermarket shelves as far away from West Yorkshire as Tesco's in London. Kettle Chips go down well here as well, but it's still "Pass the crisps", when somebody wants a handful.

Most modern 'accidents' are more like originally created for the military, like mini cameras, mobile phones (cellphones to you) and ordnance survey maps etc that walkers and tourists use around Britain.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on November 13, 2013:

This was very interesting, esp. the microwave, funny how so many of the things we enjoy today was discovered by accident. Presentation excellent!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 13, 2013:

Faith Reaper thank you, me too!! Life will never be the same without chips!! Yummy!! Thank you for reading, vote up and share. Much appreciated. Thank you for your blessings.

JPSO138 yes me too!! It would be awesome! Thank you for your visit.

billybuc thank you. Yes, thank dear God that someone invented chocolate chip cookies!! Life is way better when you munch on one!!

JG11Bravo thank you for reading and the vote up.

JG11Bravo on November 13, 2013:

Very interesting. I wasn't aware of a few of these being accidental discoveries. Voting up.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 13, 2013:

I love hubs like this about unusual stuff...thank God someone invented chocolate chip cookies. LOL

JPSO138 from Cebu, Philippines, International on November 13, 2013:

The great thing is that they are making a lot of gains out of it. How I wish that we can also come up with one.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on November 13, 2013:

Wow, I cannot imagine life without chips! : ) How fascinating, especially these specific inventions for sure!

Excellent hub! Up and more and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on November 13, 2013:

Kathleen Cochran thank you and yes we take so many things for granted. Thanks for your appreciation and the share.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on November 13, 2013:

Very interesting. So many things we take for granted today, we only have by dumb luck! I have a hub on inventions by women - I learned a lot researching that one. Thanks, too, for your documentation, the mark of a good researcher. SHARING

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