By Michal Shvimer
There’s a reason that “happy accidents” exist.
A lot of the time, people are scared to make accidents. And that’s understandable. Accidents subvert the control we all strive to have over our lives. But, sometimes, accidents can be good.
They can turn out to be good in the long run, much to our surprise, like taking a wrong turn that leads you to an even better restaurant than the one you had in mind. Or, they can be good as soon as they happen, like a vending machine giving you two candy bars instead of one. Either way, accidents can be good.
We don’t mean to mess up, but we do anyway. Sometimes our mess-ups can actually be quite beautiful, and it’s high time we gave credit to all the happy accidents in the world.
Here are a few accidents that changed the course of the world for the better:
Chocolate chip cookies
Can you believe milk would be best friend-less if not for Ruth Graves Wakefield’s unintentional baking masterpiece? While whipping up a batch of chocolate butter drop do cookies for her guests at the Toll House Inn — which she and her husband owned at the time — Ruth ran out of baker’s chocolate.
In quick baker’s fashion, she decided to chop a block of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate, hoping it would melt throughout the dough as baking chocolate would. Rather than melting, the chocolate pieces kept their form but turned gooey within the dough. The chocolate chip cookie was born, all because a baker forgot to restock her pantry.
Can you imagine summertime without this classic poolside snack? Well, popsicles are another tasty treat that was invented by pure accident by an 11-year-old, no less.
In 1905, Frank Epperson left a stirring stick in a cup filled with water and powdered soda on his porch. Overnight, the mixture froze, and by morning time, it had transformed into a popsicle. In 1923, the “Epsicle” premiered at a California park. Frank’s kids called the dessert “Pop’s ‘sicle” and persuaded their dad to officially change the name.
Now, 2 billion popsicles are sold every day, all because a kid forgot to clean up after himself.
Oh yes, the most widely used antibiotic in the world was — you guessed it — an accident.
Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming was running experiments on the influenza virus in a London hospital. After returning from a two-week vacation, Fleming found that a mold had formed on a staphylococcus culture plate, but he had also found that the mold actually prevented the growth of staphylococci.
The discovery led to Fleming’s development of penicillin, a medicine that would end up treating strep throat and reducing WWII deaths and amputation, all because a careless scientist left his chem set out.
We might kick ourselves in the foot for forgetting important errands, slipping up on daily tasks and just being overall messy humans. But, if these folks can turn their mistakes into happy successes, so can we. And even if we don’t, at least we have chocolate chip cookies, popsicles and penicillin to fall back on.