The Great Accidental Discoveries Quiz


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Sometimes our purposeful investigations are trumped by inadvertent epiphanies. How much do you know about our best accidental discoveries?

The adhesive used in which product was originally imagined as a way to make bulletin boards sticky, and thus, render tacks unnecessary?

Eventually the concept was tweaked and Post-its became a tremendous success.


The first ice cream cones were made out of what, due to sudden necessity?

At the 1905 World's Fair, ice cream vendors ran out of cups and resorted to waffles.


Experiments meant to manufacture transparent gun sights for WWII resulted in what newfangled product?

And it will take you days to wash it off of your hands.


In 1928, what did Alexander Fleming discover thanks to a Petri dish that was inadvertently left uncovered?

He observed a fungus that killed all the bacteria around it in the dish.


A shortage of baker's chocolate led to the invention of which famous food?

Forced to use semisweet chocolate, which didn't melt evenly, the baker inadvertently created an iconic dessert.


Boiled wheat accidentally left out in open air resulted in which popular food product?

The Kellogg family popularized the food, and the rest is cereal history.


Stainless steel was invented by a 20th-century metallurgist who was working on making which product?

After many fruitless combinations he stumbled upon a mixture of chromium that helped steel "heal" itself.


In 1907, combining phenol with formaldehyde (and some other chemicals) accidentally resulted in which material?

Plastic then became one of the most-used materials ever.


How were Popsicles invented?

Fittingly, he was also the first to profit from his idea, and the concept has lasted for more than a century.


In an effort to gauge the horsepower of navy ships, an engineer accidentally made which famous toy?

His floppy, springy toy became world-famous.


In 1870, what did Thomas Adams accidentally invent when he was researching rubber substitutes?

His New York No. 1 gum became the first mass-manufactured chewing gum in the world.


A Russian chemist discovered which chemical by accident when he tasted his own hands?

It was the first artificial sweetener, discovered in the 1870s.


Problems with a byproduct called "rod wax" perturbed oil workers but helped the human body heal. What product was it turned into?

The greasy stuff is aggravating for roughneckers but good for your skin.


Which product was originally intended to clean wallpaper but accidentally wound up in an entirely different market category?

If kids hadn't begun using the stuff as a toy the company would have failed.


Edouard Benedtictus dropped a glass flask and accidentally discovered what?

His invention first went to WWI gas masks but then made its way to car windows.


In 1945, Percy Spencer was trying to power radar equipment when he accidentally demonstrated the concepts for which product?

He noticed that food melted in his pocket during an experiment.


Which product was unintentionally inspired by tangled dog fur?

The inventor looked at cockleburs from his dog's coat under a microscope and came up with the idea for Velcro.


Chinese experimenters were looking to create a concoction that led to eternal life but instead made what?

Ah, the irony


How did John Walker accidentally discover friction matches?

With just a bit of friction he literally and figuratively helped set the world on fire with his new matches.


In an effort to treat eye-muscle problems, a married couple accidentally created what product?

The toxic concoction, used in small amounts, reduces wrinkles on the human body.


In 1901, Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was awarded a Nobel Prize for accidentally discovering which phenomenon?

Those X-rays heralded a revolution in medicine and industry.


His work with phosphorescent materials led Henri Becquerel to the accidental discovery of what?

He observed uranium-enriched crystals leaving images on photographic paper, and the investigations into radioactivity had begun.


In 1856, what was William Perkins attempting to create when he accidentally made the world's first clothing dye?

His product didn't treat malaria, as intended, but it did revolutionize the textiles industry.


Coca-Cola was originally meant to do what?

Instead, the sugary blend became an incredibly popular soft drink.


Which drug was originally intended to treat heart problems but inadvertently became popular for other reasons?

Although initially intended as a heart medication, Viagra is now prescribed for erectile dysfunction.


"Smart dust" was accidentally created when what object shattered?

The bits of chip still transmitted signals, leading to all sorts of new ways to transmit electronic information.


In the 1850's, which food was born from a chef's frustration with a customer?

The chef purposely overcooked potatoes for a picky eater and wound up creating a snack food for the ages.


Roy Plunkett wanted to make a new kind of refrigeration chemical but wound up making what instead?

His inadvertent invention made the lives of cooks everywhere a lot easier.


So-called "laughing parties," held in the 1800s, led to which discovery?

Nitrous oxide and ether made many medical procedures more tolerable.


How did Charles Goodyear accidentally make rubber weatherproof?

His epiphany changed the way we use rubber in countless products.


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