Play-Doh was originally a cleaner. It was used pre-WWII when coal was the most common heat source to scrub soot off of wallpaper. When natural gas replaced coal, Kutol Products, a soap manufacturer in Ohio, was on the verge of bankruptcy when one of the owners discovered his sister, a teacher, was using the material in her classes after adding almond scent to mask the cleanser smell.
The color mauve was the very first synthetic dye. It was invented by accident when a chemist was attempting to create an artificial quinine using tar. It didn’t work but he liked the shade of purple that resulted from his experiments. Other purples were in vogue that year so he isolated the compound responsible for the color and named it mauve.
Corn flakes came about when the Kellogg brothers, medical officer and bookkeeper for a sanitarium, were researching a vegetarian diet for the patients. They were trying to make a boiled dough as an easily digestible substitute for conventional bread and ended up with wheat flakes instead which they offered as a healthy snack. They soon started their own company and tried different grains, thus the invention of corn flakes. The brothers parted ways when one of them got bold and added sugar to some of the snacks. Apparently it went against the original idea of creating healthy edibles.
Velcro was created by an electrical engineer after struggling to remove burs from his dog’s fur. He examined the annoying seedpods under his microscope and found the prickly bits were shaped like tiny crochet hooks. He decided a velvety material would work best to adhere it to and termed the combination Velcro. It took over ten years to catch on and wasn’t popular until NASA began using it to adhere items in zero-gravity environments.
Popsicles were created by an eleven-year-old boy who was too preoccupied to finish making the soda he had started. He left the partially mixed drink with stirring stick on the porch overnight and it froze. Being a kid, he pulled the chunk out of the cup and licked it. Seventeen years later he served them at a public function as a treat and they caught on. His name was Epperson so he called the frozen delights Eppsicles but his kids weren’t happy with that and renamed them Popsicles.