If it were not for serendipity or lucky mistakes, many of the world’s favourite desserts today would never have been invented.
1. Ice cream cones
Can you go through an entire summer without eating ice cream? Likely not. While ice cream has been around for generations, having been served for most of its existence in a plate or bowl of some kind, the accidental invention of the ice cream cone revolutionised how it was consumed. In 1904, during the St. Louis World Fair in the US, a waffle maker named Ernest Hamwi was selling his pastries, when he realised a neighbouring ice cream vendor had run out of dishes to plate his ice cream. He decided to help, and found a creative solution – he rolled up his waffles into cones, to help hold the ice cream. Customers loved it!
2. Tarte Tatin
Pies, both sweet and savoury, have long been a staple of Western cooking. Over the centuries, the most common pie – at least in North America – has been the same: classic apple pie. However, a variation of it, where the crust is at the bottom instead of the top of the pie, is called tarte Tatin and it was first made as a mistake. In the late 1800s, a woman called Stephanie Tatin, who ran Hotel Tatin in the south of Paris, France, with her sister, accidentally overcooked some apples that were meant for a regular apple pie. She didn’t want to start the entire process over again, so she placed a crust over the apples to keep them from burning further in the oven. And when she served it, she flipped the whole pie over, so people wouldn’t notice any scorch marks. The apples were deliciously caramelised and the tarte was a hit! The tarte was then regularly served at the hotel as its signature dish.
A stick of frozen, flavoured soda or water is a staple refresher during hot months, around the world. But it wouldn’t have come about if an 11-year-old American named Frank Epperson hadn’t bungled up. On a cold winter night in San Francisco, Epperson was experimenting with making soda – he mixed some sugary soda powder with water and forgot it out on the porch. The mixture froze overnight. In the morning, when Epperson found it, he picked up the wooden stirrer and decided to give it a try. It was delicious! Epperson declared it an ‘Epsicle’ and started selling the sweet treat in his neighbourhood. Years later, the rising entrepreneur expanded his sales to a nearby amusement park, where he met with much success. He applied for a patent, changed the dessert’s name to popsicle and never looked back.