25 Accidental Inventions That Changed The World

Posted by , Updated on October 4, 2018

You may not realize it, but many things you use every day came about completely by accident! That straw you’re sipping out of? Accident. The Velcro you used to fasten your son’s shoes? Accident. The dose of Penicillin that saved your neighbor’s life? Accident. While we’ve shared other unique invention lists with you, today we are back to focus on inventions that were completely unintentional. Trust us; you’ll want to check out these 25 Accidental Inventions That Changed The World!

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You know that pink packet of fake sugar that’s always sitting on the restaurant table? Well, as sweet as it is, you may be surprised to know where it came from. In 1879, Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist trying to find alternative uses for coal tar, came home for dinner after a long day of work and noticed that his wife’s biscuits tasted a lot sweeter than usual. After asking her about it, he realized that he hadn’t washed his hands after work, and the coal tar remnants had sweetened the biscuit. 


Smart Dust

micro chip held with tweezers

Although most students would be a bit upset if their homework all of a sudden exploded in their face, Jamie Link, a graduate student at the University of California, made the most of the situation and ended up changing the world. After the silicon chip she was working on was accidentally destroyed, she realized that the individual pieces could still function as sensors. Today, they are used to detect everything from deadly tumors to biological agents.


Potato Chips


In 1853, George Crum, a chef in New York, accidentally invented potato chips when an annoying patron kept sending his french fried potatoes back to the kitchen because they were soggy. In an attempt to teach the customer a lesson, Crum sliced them extra thin, fried them to a crisp, and drowned them in salt. To his surprise, however, the complaining customer actually liked what would become the very first serving of potato chips.




Although these days it’s almost common knowledge, this list wouldn’t be complete without Civil War veteran turned pharmacist John Pemberton and what he originally intended as nothing more than a medication for several ailments, such as opiate addiction and upset stomach. Instead, he invented one of the world’s most popular drinks. This is also why the original Coke actually did include cocaine on its list of ingredients. 




In 1905, soda pop had just become the most popular drink on the market. 11-year-old Frank Epperson decided he wanted to save money by making his own at home. Using a combination of powder and water, he got pretty close but then absentmindedly left the concoction on his porch all night. Temperatures ended up dropping to below freezing, and when he came out in the morning, he found his mixture frozen with the stirring stick still stuck in it.

Photo: Featured Image - shutterstock, 1. Science Museum London / Science and Society Picture Library, Sample of penicillin mould presented by Alexander Fleming to Douglas Macleod, 1935 (9672239344), CC BY-SA 2.0, 2. Ligfebow, Kitchen Knife 03 Stainless steel Cutting edge, CC BY-SA 3.0, 3. (Public Domain), 4. shutterstock, 5. (Public Domain), 6. Violetbonmua, Broken glass 001, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7. (Public Domain), 8. Alexander Klink, Velcro Hooks, CC BY 3.0, 9. anonymous, Super glue, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. Larry D. Moore, Playdoh, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. Roger McLassus, 2006-02-04 Metal spiral, CC BY-SA 3.0, 12. I, BrokenSphere, Haier MWM7800TBPG microwave front, CC BY-SA 3.0, 13. (Public Domain), 14. Lucien Monfils, Pacemaker, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15. (Public Domain), 16. (Public Domain), 17. (Public Domain), 18. Good Free Photos (Public Domain), 19. (Public Domain), 20. (Public Domain), 21. (Public Domain), 22. (Public Domain), 23. goodfreephotos (Public Domain), 24. shutterstock, 25. (Public Domain)

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