How on earth did we manage without them? You’ll be surprised to know that many of the things we take for granted were invented by mistake! 



image of a man and woman discovering viagra


The famous little blue pill was developed as a treatment for the heart condition angina. But male volunteers reported that, while it didn’t actually work that well where their tickers were concerned, they were experiencing a rather, um, uplifting side effect – great erections! Now it’s one of the most-prescribed drugs in the world!

2. Tea bags

Back in 1904, American tea merchant Thomas Sullivan used to send samples of tea to his customers packed in cans. Then, to cut costs, he started putting it into small hand-sewn silk bags. The orders came pouring in – not so much for tea, but for the bags which made brewing so simple!

3. Post-It Notes

image of dozens of colourful post it notes


In 1970, 3M research laboratories were trying to find a strong adhesive, but, instead of being super strong, it turned out super weak! When, a few years later, the markers in his hymn book kept falling out, one of the scientists remembered that unsticky sticky-stuff, and found that not only would it keep his marker in place, but it also lifted off without damaging the page. Today, no office is complete without them.

4. Ice cream cones

On a scorchingly hot day at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis, Missouri, two vendors stood next to one another. One was serving waffles, the other ice cream. When the ice cream vendor ran out of cups to serve his produce, his neighbour rolled up a waffle into a cone-shape, and topped it with the ice cream. Cool!

5. Microwave ovens

In the 1940s, Navy radar specialist Percy Spencer was tinkering around with microwave emitters when he felt the chocolate bar in his pocket start melting. Mind you, the very first experimental microwave was 5 1/2 ft tall, weiged 750lb and cost $5,000, so thank goodness this kitchen essential is now so much smaller – and cheaper!

6. Chocolate-chip cookies

image of chocolate cookies on a plate


While making a batch of chocolate cookies at her Toll House Inn in Massachussetts in 1930, Ruth Wakefield ran out of baker’s chocolate. So she substituted semi-sweetened chocolate to the dough. It didn’t melt – and the chocolate chip cookie was invented by mistake! In the US, they’re still known as Toll House cookies.

7. Velcro

image of close up of velcro hook and eye fastening


George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, was out hunting in the Jura Mountains in the 1940s when he noticed the head of cockle-bur weeds were sticking to his trousers and in his dog’s fur. After examining them under a microscope, he saw how the tiny hooks on the burr caught on the fabric. After taking years to perfect his invention, he called it Velcro – from the French words for velvet (velour) and hook (crochet).