Make a tasty mistake: 5 popular recipes that were invented by accident

Did you know that popsicles were invented by a kid...and that it happened by accident? Sometimes, mistakes in the kitchen lead to amazing things. Learn about the delicious value of making mistakes with the history of popsicles, chocolate chip cookies, playdough, nachos, and tofu.

While it’s tempting to avoid making mistakes in the kitchen, the truth is that cooking mishaps happen to even the best cooks—if your kid doesn’t believe this, show them any cooking show! Cooking is a skill that everyone learns and practices because no one is born knowing how to do it.  The good news is that learning from mistakes helps you become an expert—plus, sometimes the results are delicious! 

Today, we’re sharing recipes that were happy accidents, and talking about how to handle mistakes in your kitchen. 

Popsicles: In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson sat on his front porch making soda from fruit flavoured powder and soda water. By mistake, he left the cup outside on the porch overnight, and in the morning he found it had frozen, spoon and all. He named the frozen lolly “the Eppsicle”, but later on renamed it the Popsicle when his kids suggested the name. To make your own delicious popsicles, try these 10 recipes!

Play-Doh: Joseph and Noah McVicker were trying to invent a good wallpaper cleaner...but invented Play-Doh by accident. Today, the brightly coloured non-toxic modelling clay is sold around the world. Make a batch of your very own with this simple recipe, or go wild with these variations!

Nachos: It’s hard to believe anything so delicious was a mistake. In 1943, Ignacio “El Nacho” Anaya invented the dish to feed hungry customers who showed up at his hotel after closing time in Piedras Negras, Coihula, Mexico. He didn’t have much to work with (and was a maitre d’hotel, not a chef) so he sliced tortillas and fried them, covered them with cheese, and added thinly sliced jalapeno peppers. He called them “Nacho’s especiales” but over time the dish became known as, simply, nachos.  Share some with your famil— this community recipe shows how easy they are to put together!

Tofu: Tofu is about 2,000 years old, so it’s hard to say what its true origin story is—but legend has it that it was invented when a Chinese chef accidentally curdled soy milk after he added nigari seaweed to it. Today, it’s popular worldwide and an extremely versatile ingredient—you can enjoy it in dumplings, on skewers, in stir fry, in salad,  or even as a dessert

Chocolate chip cookies: There’s a popular (and incorrect) story that the chocolate chip cookie was an accident. But the truth is still pretty sweet! In 1938, Ruth Wakefield and Sue invented the cookie by chopping a Nestlé chocolate bar into small pieces, and adding it to a butterscotch dough. In the “happy accident” version of this story, Ruth was in a hurry to make chocolate cookies and thought the chocolate would melt into the cookie. But the truth is that Ruth and Sue were chefs who weren’t afraid to experiment in the kitchen—and they came up with an incredible cookie together by starting with a butterscotch cookie recipe and trying to make something new. To make your own chocolate chip cookies, try this recipe from our community

So what do you do when you have a cooking disaster? When kitchen mistakes happen, don’t panic—often you can save a dish with one or two simple fixes. And remember, cooking is a creative process, so give your family a chance to be creative in the kitchen—try these 5 easy steps to inventing a recipe with kids, and you’ll find your kids will be more confident about handling change and trying new ideas. Speaking of new ideas, we have lots of advice on how to help kids broaden their cooking horizons, and on the benefits of cooking for anxious kids. Or, head to our recipe archives to pick out a recipe together that you’ve never tried before! You just might find your new favourite meal after a tasty mistake or two. For more ideas and tips, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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