Accidents are made by people everyday. I believe you, like everyone else, has made a mistake recently. May it be large or small, on a final exam or simply adding salt instead of sugar into your coffee, the feeling afterwards isn’t always too nice is it? For the most part no, but quite a large portion of inventions were actually accidental. Imagine having your mistake loved by everyone else. That’s actually not too bad! Take potato chips, microwaves and ivory soap for example. Without flaw, these everyday inventions would cease to exist.
Potato chips were first created in Saratoga Springs, New York by George Crum, an annoyed chef, on August 24, 1853. On that day, a picky customer kept sending back his fried potatoes claiming that they were too thick and soggy. After repeatedly slicing the potatoes into thinner and thinner pieces, Crum finally decided to slice them as thin as possible. He then fried them until they were crisp and added extra salt for good measure. Crum had intended to make the fried potatoes taste horrible, but as surprising as it was, the customer loved them! Crum’s “accident” soon became a regular item on the menu under the name of “Saratoga Chips.” From then on, the popularity of potato chips increased an extreme amount. Today, we can find just any bag of chips in pretty much any convenient store or supermarket.
Similar to this snack, microwaves were also discovered on a perfectly normal day all thanks to Percy Spencer, an American engineer from Howland, Maine. At the time, Spencer was working on an active radar set. It was after a period of time when he noticed that the bar of chocolate he had accidentally left in his pocket had started to melt. Using microwaves, the radar had managed to melt his bar of chocolate. Had Spencer not left a bar of chocolate in his pocket, the idea of the microwave oven would not have been discovered. This invention has brought us so much convenience. Imagine living life without it!
Last of all, have you heard of soap that floats? Ivory soap doesn’t ever get lost in a bathtub full of water all because of an error. First sold in 1879, ivory soap is one of P&G’s oldest products. It’s floating property is caused by the amount of air it contains inside. This invention was created all because a worker had accidentally left the mixing machine on for a bit too long. P&G decided to sell this “defective” batch because its properties of soap had not changed. Were the consumers of this batch of soap ever too surprised. It floated! From then on, P&G ordered excessive mixing of their soap, thus creating ivory soap.
Maybe accidents aren’t really that bad. Many of these accidental inventions proved to be extremely useful or they just tasted really good. What else? We learn from our mistakes if they don’t become great inventions anyways. We’re all human after all.
About this contributor: Rowena403 is a French immersion high school student attending Dr. Charles Best Secondary with interests in science. She is currently in grade 11 and enjoys music and math.