Fortuitous kitchen mistakes


We think most people (at least secretly) love lists – especially those that involve food. And this list from First We Feast of 15 Delicious Things That were Invented By Mistake is one of our recent favorites.

The invention of chocolate chip cookies is a fairly well-known story, and beer had to be a  great mistake (it was probably a little tricky to understand the chemistry of fermentation 10,000 years ago), but there were some surprises on the list. Among them are:

  • Popsicles – invented by an 11-year old in 1905 after leaving a stick in a soda mix overnight.
  • Nachos – invented on the fly for a group of starving army wives who came into a restaurant after it had closed.
  • Nashville Hot Chicken – It could be that many spice foods have a similar origin: “Restaurant lore traces the recipe back to current owner Andre Jeffries’s great-uncle Thornton Prince, an infamous womanizer. When she thought he was creeping, one of his jealous lover’s fed him extra-spicy chicken out of vengeance-turned out, he liked it so much that he began cooking it at his restaurant.”
  • Brandy – here economics was the driving force: “Vintners would boil their wine in order to reduce its volume for transport, then cut it with water on the other end. They didn’t realize that by transporting this concentrated mixture in wooden casks, the fortified wine would be transformed into something very different.”
  • Cheese Puffs – which were invented after a clever inventor saw that, to clean a machine that created animal feed, workers would put moistened corn kernels in the machine. When the corn puffed, it effectively cleaned the machine.

And while we’re on the subject of nachos, here’s one of the many nachos recipes from a new cookbook – Ultimate Nachos – in this case for Ballpark Nachos (photo by Karen Wise on Serious Eats). 

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One Comment

  • FuzzyChef  on  October 10, 2013

    Lindsay, many of those stories are apocryphal. For some reason, Americans love the idea of things being invented by accident, and will make up stories about accidental inventions, even when the origin of something is either obvious or well-documented. I've never been able to figure out this sociological quirk; maybe such stories are just more fun, but I haven't observed a desire to explain every invention as a lucky accident in other cultures.

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