“Accident is the name of the greatest of all inventors.”
— Mark Twain
When creating your masterpiece in the kitchen, do you follow the recipe or veer off to add your own personal flavours? Well history has shown that improvisation, experimentation and most often a “whoops ‘ moment has lead to the discovery of many foods.
Without these the culinary world may have been deprived of chocolate chip cookies, popsicles, sandwiches, potato chips and old time breakfast staple, Corn Flakes.
Though there are many intriguing stories with the origin of many foodstuffs, these classic five are my favourite!
Ruth Wakefield invented the Toll House brand of chocolate chip cookies. A dietician by trade, Wakefield decided to open a tourist lodge and named it the Toll House Inn. Though the Inn was popular around the area it was Wakefield’s cooking that drew repeat customers; one particular favorite menu item was her butter drop cookies.
The recipe called for the use of baker’s chocolate and one day Wakefield found herself without the needed ingredient. She substituted a semi-sweet chocolate bar and cut it up into bits. However, unlike the baker’s chocolate the chopped up chocolate bar did not melt completely, instead, the small pieces only softened.
As it so happened the chocolate bar had been a gift from Andrew Nestle of the Nestle Chocolate Company. As the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe became popular, sales of Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate bar increased.
Andrew Nestle and Ruth Wakefield struck a deal; Nestle would print the Toll House Cookie recipe on its packaging and Wakefield would have a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate. Very sweet deal!
The Popsicle was invented by accident by an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson. According to the Popsicle Company, one cold evening Frank left a mixture of powder flavored soda water with a stir stick in it on the porch.
Because of the cold weather outside, he awoke to a frozen treat on a stick. The “Epsicle” as he referred to it was a hit with his friends at school, and later with his own kids.
Frank started selling his invention for five cents. It is unclear exactly where the name “popsicle” comes from, but it is thought that it may be from the contraction of “lollypop” and “icicle”. Epperson sold the rights to the brand name Popsicle® to the Joe Lowe Company — and the rest is history!
The quick-food product that we now know as the sandwich was created by a gambler who happened to be the Earl of Sandwich. I kid you not!
There actually is town called Sandwich. This Earl was too busy gambling to stop for a meal even though he was hungry for some food. The legend goes that he ordered his waiter to bring him sliced meat between two pieces of bread. The Earl was not only able to continue playing his card game but he also discovered an ingenious way to keep his cards from getting greasy!
The original sandwich was, in fact, a piece of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread.
The popularity of sandwich spread like wildfire once the bread slicer was invented. Bakeries started selling pre-sliced bread, thus making sandwiches an easy, portable meal for workers and school lunches.
Potato chips were created by a frustrated chef and a diner who was not easily pleased. Chef George Crum was employed at an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. On Moon Lake Lodge’s restaurant menu were French-fried potatoes, prepared by Crum in the standard, thick-cut French style that was popularized in France.
One evening, one dinner guest found Chef Crum’s French fries too thick for his liking and rejected the order. Crum cut and fried a thinner batch, but these, too, met with disapproval. Exasperated, Crum decided to rile the guest by producing French fries too thin and crisp to skewer with a fork.
Unfortunately, the plan backfired and the guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes. The popularity of crisps spread and Crum’s potato chips began to appear on the menu as Saratoga Chips — a house specialty!
The tasty flakes of corn that are so popular for breakfast were actually invented by a group of Seventh Day Adventists to “aid sexual abstinence”.
Believing spicy, hot foods encouraged sexual appetites, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, served various meals dull in taste to his patients.
To improve the diet of hospital patients, Kellogg was always searching for a digestible bread substitute using the process of boiling wheat. One day, Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and the wheat became mushy and soft. When Kellogg rolled the softened wheat and let it dry, each grain of wheat emerged as a large thin flake.
Neither the batch nor the money could be wasted so the frugal doctor still fed it to his patients. The patients loved the crispy flakes and soon family outside the sanatorium began requesting their own bag of corn flakes.
So let’s capitalize on the mistakes of others!
Original Nestle® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg
1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Corn Flakes Chevda (Spicy Indian Snack Mix)
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
½ cup shelled peanuts or ½ cup mixed nut, of your choice
¼ cup golden raisin
1 teaspoon red chili powder (to taste)
1⁄3 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 cups corn flakes
Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Wait until they sizzle, then toss in the raisins (or other dried fruit pieces) and nuts. Stir a minute. Keep on very low heat and stir in the chili powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the lime juice, keeping your face averted because the oil will splatter. Finally gently fold in the cornflakes over low heat for about 3-4 minutes until the cornflakes are well coated with the spice blend. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.
(3 ounce) package fruit flavored gelatin mix
1 unsweetened, flavored soft drink mix package
1 cup white sugar
1 cup boiling water
In large pitcher, combine gelatin, soft drink mix, sugar and boiling water. Stir until powders are dissolved. Add enough cold water to make 2 quarts. Pour into 3 oz. paper drinking cups and freeze.
Microwave Potato chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 potato, sliced paper thin (peel optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pour the vegetable oil into a plastic bag (a produce bag works well). Add the potato slices, and shake to coat. Coat a large dinner plate lightly with oil or cooking spray. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on the dish. Cook in the microwave for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned (if not browned, they will not become crisp). Times will vary depending on the power of your microwave. Remove chips from plate, and toss with salt (or other seasonings). Let cool. Repeat process with the remaining potato slices. You will not need to keep oiling the plate.
California Grilled Veggie Sandwich
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon pesto sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1 cup sliced red bell peppers
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 focaccia bread pieces, split horizontally
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, minced garlic, pesto sauce and lemon juice. Set aside in the refrigerator. Preheat the grill for high heat. Brush vegetables with olive oil on each side. Brush grate with oil. Place bell peppers and zucchini closest to the middle of the grill, and set onion and squash pieces around them. Cook for about 3 minutes, turn, and cook for another 3 minutes. The peppers may take a bit longer. Remove from grill, and set aside. Spread some of the mayonnaise mixture on the cut sides of the bread. Place grilled vegetables on bread and sprinkle liberally with feta cheese. Place sandwich on grill and cover with lid for 2 to 3 minutes. This will warm the bread, and slightly melt the cheese. Remove from grill, and enjoy!
Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on bprda.wpengine.com