Accidentally invented

Ever wondered where your favourite treat comes from? Where did a sandwich get its name? It's time for a history lesson.

by: Food24 | 19 Sep 2008

Chocolate chip cookies
When Ruth Wakefield of the Tollhouse Inn, Massachusetts, ran out of baking chocolate one day in 1930, she crumbled up a bar of semi-sweet chocolate and added the pieces to her dough. When she removed them from the oven, the cookies weren't uniformly infused with melted chocolate, but rather studded with little chunks throughout. Crumbs... imagine a life without chocolate chip cookies.

Potato chips
Back in 1853, a customer at Saratoga Springs' Moon's Lake House sent batch after batch of fried potatoes back, claiming they weren't crunchy enough for his liking. Fed-up chef George Crum sliced the final batch as thinly as possible, sizzled them in hot grease and laid on the salt. The crispy taters quickly became a hit throughout the region.

One freezing San Francisco night in 1905, eleven-year-old Frank Epperson left his soda making equipment out on his porch. The next day, he found the stick with which he'd been stirring flavoured powder into water had frozen upright in the mixture. In 1924, he applied for a patent for this "Epsicle," which he then changed to "Popsicle," at the urging of his kids. Remember to thank Frank on that next stinking hot day!

Corn flakes
John and Will Kellogg weren't going to waste the stale, boiled wheat they had left sitting out at their Battle Creek Sanatorium (health spa specialising in clearing out the digestive tract). They attempted to make long sheets of dough, but the process resulted in flakes, which they then toasted. The patients loved it, and after experimenting with various grains, including corn, the brothers sought a patent for this and the Kellogg's company was formed in 1906. John refused to take part, as he felt the addition of sugar to the corn flakes decreased their health benefit.

They say the first beer was drunk when Samson downed a lion, but apparently about 10 000 years ago, when Mesopotamians became the world's first agrarian society, their stored grains for bread became wet, and began to naturally ferment. Someone actually dared to drink the frothing mess, becoming the first person to "burp" after a brew.

The Legend of Kaldi maintains that an Ethiopian goat herder checked his flock was acting a bit frisky after eating some bright red berries. After sampling some for himself and feeling the buzz, he brought the berries to a local Imaam who roasted them and boiled a batch in water.

The story goes that gambling man John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich found leaving the betting table to be counter-productive, so he ordered meat to be delivered to him between slices of bread. Another story suggests that work kept him tied to his desk, thus necessitating the fork-free meal.

Worcestershire sauce
Former Bengal colonial governor Lord Marcus Sandy was pining for his favourite Indian sauce once he returned to England, and commissioned drugstore owners John Lea and William Perrins to recreate it from his descriptions. The smell was too powerful to keep it in their store so they stashed it in their basement for two years. During this time, it aged and improved radically in flavour and odour and became a hit with Bloody Mary fans the world over.

Ice cream cones
During 1904's St. Louis World's Fair, Syrian pastry vendor Ernest Hamwi helped out a nearby ice cream seller who'd run short on dishes. He rolled his pastry into a cone so the ice cream could be scooped inside. It was a hit, but Italian immigrant Italo Marchiony also had the same bright spark idea, acquiring the patent for an ice cream cone.

So the next time you enjoy a spicy Bloody Mary with a bowl of Kellogg's corn flakes, take a moment to remember where these wonderful things came from.

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