10 Awesomely Odd American Curiosity Shops You Should Visit

Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy

Some consumers prefer to shop at big box stories, while others like to peruse smaller boutique stores. And then there are the people who are looking for something a little more ... unusual. You might find these people in a curiosity shop, where they eagerly admire torturous-looking Victorian medical devices, “human ivory” (a.k.a. fingernail) jewelry, and taxidermy mounts of two-headed calves.

Needless to say, every day at an oddities shop is pretty much Halloween. But what better time to poke around their shelves and displays than this time of year, when all of us—not just the collectors and connoisseurs—are in the mood for something a little bit strange and even possibly creepy and freaky? We'd suggest starting with these purveyors of weird wares from around the United States.

1. Bazaar // Baltimore, Maryland

Serial killer John Wayne Gacy used marker to draw this clown portrait, which hangs at Bazaar in Baltimore, Maryland.Courtesy of Greg Hatem

Greg Hatem and Brian Henry were two twentysomethings working jobs they didn’t like—Hatem was waiting tables and Henry was working in a photo lab—when they decided to take the plunge and open Bazaar (clearly a play on the word bizarre). “We both have strange collections, and there was a [retail] spot available in one of our favorite neighborhoods and we decided to go for it,” Hatem tells Mental Floss. “It started as stuff we found extremely weird—we had some rare albino specimens, and we had this one piece that was, like, framed dog hair that had won some dog show in, like, 1974.” The Ouija board was named in Baltimore, so Hatem and Henry naturally sell a lot of those. The store also boasts a signature candle collection, which includes such scents as Abandoned Hospital, Overgrown Cemetery, Plague Doctor, and Séance. “Overgrown Cemetery has a dirty, earthy smell, and Séance has spiritual herbs,” Hatem says. “Abandoned Hospital smells like a decaying building.” Well, naturally!

The Ouija boards and the candles are along the lines of what’s to be expected; Bazaar doesn’t disappoint, however, when it comes to the unexpected. “I’d say one of the creepier things we have in the shop is a sculpture made out of intestines,” Hatem says. “The face is sort of like a horse face and it has a female bust. We believe it’s pig intestines.” (In a follow-up email, Hatem explained that the sculpture had been found in an abandoned farmhouse during a clean-out by new owners, and that he knows virtually nothing about it beyond that.) Bazaar also has some original artwork by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was a prolific creator of drawings and paintings. “The Gacy piece is actually done in marker, and it depicts his alter ego, Pogo the Clown,” Hatem wrote. “I don't know if he titled most of his pieces, but it would be commonly referred to among collectors as a ‘Pogo.’ The Pogo pieces that were done with paint are among his most prized works, but the marker one is still pretty creepy!”

2. Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop // Seattle, Washington

Courtesy Ryan Robbins

“I’ve sold more human bones than I know what to do with,” Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop owner Ryan Robbins tells Mental Floss, but Homo sapiens parts aren't the only unusual specimens you'll find here. The store also has a dissected pigeon encased in resin—“You can see all the internal organs”—and framed insects and taxidermy bats. Where does Robbins find all this stuff? “It started off with me traveling around, and now that we have a reputation, people will bring us stuff,” Robbins says. “Or we go to estate sales.” An owner of a tattoo shop that closed sold him a mummified cat. And Robbins also has some "dental phantoms" in the store. “They’re weird,” he said. “It’s a metal armature of a human head that looks like the Terminator ... It’s basically a metal skeleton head. Dentists practice on them and they’re very unusual and creepy.”

3. The Weeping Glass // Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Courtesy Kelly Braden

Though The Weeping Glass is bursting with odd and curious tchotchkes, probably one of the coolest things about this Pittsburgh establishment is its in-store events, which feature evenings of cocktails and performance artists who tell tales of murder, and an Edgar Allan Poe impersonator who does Poe readings (can you hear the heart beating under the floorboards?). “We definitely see a pickup around the Halloween season, but we have a lot of traffic year-round,” co-owner Kelly Braden says. “Halloween is every day for us.” Currently, there’s a full sheep skeleton in the shop, as well as a warthog skull and an ostrich skull. A cat skeleton Braden calls Ramona “sleeps” on one of the chairs. And it wouldn’t be an oddities shop without a taxidermy two-headed cow (seriously, they all seem to have one). “His name is Dippy, and he’s from a private collector we deal with,” Braden explains.

4. Obscura Antiques & Oddities // New York, New York

The term creepy is highly subjective, but there are certain antiques that just have an energy to them, or a look to them, that give some people inexplicable heebie-jeebies, according to Obscura Antiques & Oddities co-owner Mike Zohn. “Years ago, we had a really amazing shrunken head that had a [haunted] look to it,” he says. “We had a [human] brain in a jar many years ago. And Ouija boards—people get really freaked out by Ouijas. I’ve seen people turn around and leave. I’ve had people come in and say, ‘Oh my god, you should burn that.’” Obscura has a collection of Victorian death photos, as well as other memorial and mourning items. And anything related to the mortuary or medical professions is always a big hit, according to Zohn: “We have mortuary supplies, embalming tools. A medical amputation kit. Terrible and intrusive medical items.”

Obscura co-owner Evan Michelson—who, along with Zohn, starred on the Science Channel series Oddities—is particularly well-versed in Victorian jewelry, and the shop has plenty of items made from human hair. “We still have a bunch of human hair stuff—1850s hair items. Human hair wreaths. Most of them are mid- to late 19th-century,” Zohn says, but notes that jewelry made of hair is notoriously uncomfortable to wear close to the skin: “It can actually be kind of abrasive.” And the hair wreaths? “People displayed them in their homes,” he says. “Some of them are memorials, some of them are almost like a family tree—gray hair from grandma, red hair from aunt so-and-so—not necessarily because someone died.”

5. Las Vegas Oddities // Las Vegas, Nevada

“I had a guy walk in and pull a skull out of a kid’s backpack once. That skull was not fresh, so I didn’t call the cops,” says Vanessa VanAlstyne, owner of Las Vegas Oddities. “I did have a guy once try to sell me a half gallon of potassium cyanide from mining—that’s enough potassium cyanide to kill the entire Strip. Las Vegas is crazy.” Given these stories, it's understandable why VanAlstyne doesn't cold-buy off the street. “I do get a lot of people who are like ‘grandpa was a dentist’ or ‘my father was in medicine in the ‘40s,’” she says.

There is no “typical” Las Vegas Oddities customer, according to VanAlstyne, but visitors to her store are usually connoisseurs of some sort. “People who are in a field tend to collect things from that field—a lot of doctors or dentists or dental hygienists," she says. "Then you have your history buffs or your horror fans.” Circus sideshow memorabilia is popular—“this is a very circus/sideshow kind of town,” VanAlstyne says—and, of course, natural history stuff: The shop sells everything from mounted beetles to taxidermied bats.

6. Uncommon Objects // Austin, Texas

Austin's Uncommon Objects was founded in 1991 as an antique collective, but over the years it has evolved, according to its website, "into the one-of-a-kind emporium of transcendent junk" assembled by 24 antique vendors. But the shop doesn't just sell antiques. One of the favorite oddities Uncommon Objects owner Steve Wiman has ever sold were bovine hairballs that form naturally in a cow’s stomach. “They lick their hair and it doesn’t dissolve,” Wiman tells Mental Floss. “They weren’t really heavy—they were spherical and looked like softballs—but you could see tiny hairs and several different tones. I would have never known what it was if I hadn’t been told, but they came from a slaughter house." (Cows can't vomit, so these hairballs are only found after death.) "I sold the collection to someone who had a cattle ranch. I think they ended up in a good home.”

In addition to the semi-gross, Uncommon Objects also deals in the creepy and macabre, although maybe not intentionally. “We get people coming through the front door sometimes asking if we have any haunted items, and our answer is, ‘See if you feel if anything haunted is in here,’" he says. "We’ve had paranormal groups come through and we’ve turned off the power in the shop and they’ve caught a lot of things they felt might be haunted.” Does Wiman himself believe in ghosts? “I think most people who deal with old stuff find that there’s an energy that comes off some stuff, and there’s some stuff that’s a little twisted or perverse without any explanation.”

One night, the store’s alarm went off and Wiman was called to the store by the cops while they conducted their search of the premises. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, but an idea for an in-store event was formed. “We’re in conversation now about doing flashlight tours around Halloween,” Wiman says. “When I saw what they were seeing just via flashlight—like when you come upon a baboon head or a creepy doll—it’s a very different experience from what you see during the day.”

One of the store’s most dedicated customers is YouTube sensation Grav3yard Girl, who, with 8.5 million subscribers and regular Uncommon Objects "hauls," brings the store—and most likely oddities shops in general—a ton of business. “Creepy dolls are one of the things she’s bought for many, many years,” Wiman says. “She’s made them desirable to people who maybe wouldn’t have been into them.”

7. Woolly Mammoth // Chicago, Illinois

Courtesy of Woolly Mammoth

Even the origins of Chicago's Woolly Mammoth—a "curiosity cabinet of odd, amusing, and eclectic items resurrected from the past," according to its website—are a little spooky: Husband-and-wife owners Skye and Adam Rust came up with the idea in 2010 while on a trip to Transylvania, Romania, where they visited sites associated with Vlad the Impaler.

According to the Rusts, the creepiest oddity they ever sold is also their biggest regret. “We acquired a medically prepared, mummified human head,” they wrote in an email while on a buying trip in Europe. “There were cutaways that showed facial nerves, eyelashes, and some mustache remnants. We named him Alexander the Great, and we can barely look at a picture of him without getting sick to our stomachs that we sold him.”

Like Bazaar in Baltimore, Woolly Mammoth also has a John Wayne Gacy painting, but this one is probably even more disturbing than an infamous Pogo drawing: it’s Gacy’s painted depiction of Adolf Hitler. And like Obscura in New York, Woolly Mammoth also sells Victorian mourning hair wreaths, as well as 19th century obstetrics tools—primarily cephalotribes (an instrument that was used to crush the skulls of stillborn fetuses) as well as an in utero mechanical trephine (a saw for removing a cylindrical piece of tissue or bone).

8. Cleveland Curiosities // Cleveland, Ohio

According to Clement Kunkle, who owns Cleveland Curiosities with his wife Hallie Wallace, this generation is into being gothy and weird—hence the rise in popularity of oddities shops. Kunkle has always been a bit pleasantly gothy and weird himself, collecting skulls and engaging in bug-pinning projects and nature-collecting since the age of 13. “It progressively turned into more of a profession,” he tells Mental Floss. At Cleveland Curiosities, though, it’s Wallace who teaches the in-store butterfly-pinning classes, and a photographer friend comes in and does tintype photos for anyone who wants one. Back in September, Butch Patrick, the actor who played Eddie Munster on The Munsters, made an in-store appearance.

Some of the creepy stuff in Cleveland Curiosities includes old masquerade clown and devil masks. The store has the requisite two-headed calf, abnormal medical human skulls, and some Victorian human skeletons. For the tamer customers in the Lakewood shopping district, Cleveland Curiosities sells pins, prints and patches from various artists. “They’re not too creepy,” Kunkle says, “but people feel comfortable buying them because they’re just weird enough.”

9. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop // Seattle, Washington

Established in 1899, Seattle’s Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is one of the country’s O.G. curiosity shops. It all began when Joseph Edward Standley, later known to the public as “Daddy Standley,” won a clean desk award as a child and, as a prize, was given a book on natural oddities by his teacher, according to Standley’s great-great grandson Neal James, one of the store’s managers. Standley began collecting all sorts of things and, as an adult, opened a grocery store that he decorated with his various oddities. “After a while, no one could find the groceries, so he decided to open this store,” James tells Mental Floss.

The store sells framed spiders and bats, shrunken-head replicas, animal skeletons, and unusual taxidermy. But it’s the store’s museum that contains the most interesting artifacts. There are not one, but two Fiji Mermaids—a half-monkey/half-fish taxidermy creature that originated with Japanese sailors and was made most famous by P.T. Barnum. Another unique item sounds similar to the mummified head from Woolly Mammoth. “We call him Medical Ed, and he’s a head that was mummified and it opens up so that you can study all the inside parts,” James says. “It appears to be something that wasn’t very common. You can’t find many of them anywhere.” Other curious items include bone and ivory jewelry, (more) hairballs from a cow’s stomach, a preserved baby octopus, and a whale eardrum.

James is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the business, and speaks with infectious enthusiasm about each object and oddity. Does he plan to follow in his great-great grandfather’s footsteps? “Most certainly.”

10. The Creeper Gallery // New Hope, Pennsylvania

Erin McCarthy

Owners and artists D.L. Marian and Danielle Deveroux call their store a "completely unique gallery experience," and they're not kidding. The Creeper Gallery, located on Bridge Street in New Hope, Pennsylvania, is full of unusual original art, vintage taxidermied animals, manuals from secret societies, a human skeleton, and first editions of Edgar Allan Poe's works. Then there's The Red Room, which contains haunted dolls, paintings, and even a leather earhorn that was owned by a Civil War veteran ("family claims they see the spirit of a soldier in the vicinity of the piece," the earhorn's tag notes). Marian and Deveroux find items for the shop all over the world: “There’s no Walmart for it!” Deveroux told CBS. “So we’re hunting and pecking. We’re going far and wide.”

Amazon's Best Black Friday Deals: Tech, Video Games, Kitchen Appliances, Clothing, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Black Friday is finally here, and Amazon is offering great deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40)

- Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition; $190 (save $30)

- Ninja OS301 Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer; $125 (save $75)

- Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville; $120 (save $60)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75)

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $80 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10)

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $16 (save $11)

- HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

- Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31)

- TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

- Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

- Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30)

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening; $40 (save $20)

- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity; $50 (save $10)

- Marvel's Avengers; $25 (save $33)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

- The Sims 4; $24 (save $20)

- God of Warfor PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

- Days Gonefor PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

- Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250)

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $335 (save $64)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $120 (save $79)

- Seneo Wireless Charger, 3 in 1 Wireless Charging Station; $16 (save $10)

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

- DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

- Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones; $120 (Save $80)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones; $175 (save $75)

- JBL Boombox; $280 (save $120)

Movies and TV

HBO/Amazon

- Game of Thrones: The Complete Series; $115 (save $89)

- Jurassic World 5-Movie Set; $23 (save $37)

- Deadwood: The Complete Series; $42 (save $28)

- Back to the Future Trilogy; $15 (save $21)

Toys and Games

Amazon

- Awkward Family Photos Greatest Hits; $15 (save $10)

- Exploding Kittens Card Game; $10 (save $10)

- Cards Against Humanity: Hidden Gems Bundle; $14 (save $5)

- LOL Surprise OMG Remix Pop B.B. Fashion Doll; $29 (save $6)

- LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle 92177 Expert Building Kit; $56 (save $14)

Furniture

Casper/Amazon

- Casper Sleep Element Queen Mattress; $476 (save $119)

- ZINUS Alexis Deluxe Wood Platform Bed Frame; $135 (save $24)

- ROMOON Dresser Organizer with 5 Drawers; $59 (save $11) 

- AmazonBasics Room Darkening Blackout Window Curtains; $26 (save $5)

- Writing Desk by Caffoz; $119 (save $21)

- SPACE Seating Office Support Managers Chair; $112 (save $116)

- Rivet Globe Stick Table Lamp; $53 (save $17)

- Christopher Knight Home Merel Mid-Century Modern Club Chair; $188 (save $10)

- Walker Edison Furniture Industrial Rectangular Coffee Table; $121 (save $48)

Beauty

Haus/Amazon

- MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light; $21 (save $12) 

- Cliganic USDA Organic Lip Balms Set of Six; $6 (save $4)

- HAUS LABORATORIES By Lady Gaga: LE RIOT LIP GLOSS; $7 (save $11)

- Native Deodorant for Men and Women Set of Three; $25 (save $11) 

- BAIMEI Rose Quartz Jade Roller & Gua Sha; $14 (save $3)

- Honest Beauty Clearing Night Serum with Pure Retinol and Salicylic Acid; $20 (save $8)

- WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner Set; $30 (save $5) 

- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser; $15 (save $5)

- wet n wild Bretman Rock Shadow Palette; $9 (save $6)

- EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Face Sunscreen Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid; $25 (save $6)

Clothes

Ganni/Amazon

- Ganni Women's Crispy Jacquard Dress; $200 (save $86) 

- The Drop Women's Maya Silky Slip Skirt; $36 (save $9)

- Steve Madden Women's Editor Boot; $80 (save $30)

- adidas Women's Roguera Cross Trainer; $40 (save $25)

- Line & Dot Women's Elizabeth Sweater; $74 (save $18)

- Levi's Men's Sherpa Trucker Jacket; $57 (save $41)

- Adidas Men's Essentials 3-Stripes Tapered Training Joggers Sweatpants; $28 (save $12)

- Timex Men's Weekender XL 43mm Watch; $32 (save $20)

- Ray-Ban Unisex-Adult Hexagonal Flat Lenses Sunglasses; $108 (save $46) 

- Reebok Men's Flashfilm Train Cross Trainer; $64 (save $16)

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9 Things Invented By Accident

These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
Daniel Öberg, Unsplash

Not every great invention was created according to plan. Some, in fact, were the result of a happy accident. In November 2020, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced that the COVID-19 vaccine it had developed in partnership with Oxford University was 90 percent effective when administered in a dosing regimen they had discovered thanks to some “serendipity.” This wasn't the only unintentional discovery in history, of course. From penicillin to artificial sweeteners, all nine of the everyday items below were invented entirely by accident.

1. Penicillin

On September 28, 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered that a petri dish of staphylococcus bacteria that had been inadvertently left out on the windowsill of his London laboratory had become contaminated by a greenish-colored mold—and encircling the mold was a halo of inhibited bacterial growth. After taking a sample and developing a culture, Fleming discovered that the mold was a member of the Penicillium genus, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. Corn Flakes

The two Kellogg brothers—Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his younger brother (and former broom salesman) Will Keith Kellogg—worked at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, where John was physician-in-chief. Both were strict Seventh-day Adventists, who used their work at the sanitarium to promote the austere dietary and moralist principles of their religion (including strict vegetarianism and a lifelong restraint from excessive sex and alcohol) and to carry out research into nutrition, and the impact of diet on their patients. It was during one of these experiments in 1894 that, while in the process of making dough from boiled wheat, one of the Kelloggs left the mash to dry for too long and when it came time to be rolled out, it splintered into dozens of individual flakes. Curious as to what these flakes tasted like, he baked them in the oven—and in the process, produced a cereal called Granose. Some later tinkering switched out the wheat for corn, and gave us corn flakes.

3. Teflon

Polytetrafluoroethylene—better known as PTFE, or Teflon—was invented by accident at a DuPont laboratory in New Jersey in 1938. Roy Plunkett, an Ohio-born chemist, was attempting to make a new CFC refrigerant when he noticed that a canister of tetrafluoroethylene, despite appearing to be empty, weighed as much as if it were full. Cutting the canister open with a saw, Plunkett found that the gas had reacted with the iron in the canister’s shell and had coated its insides with polymerized polytetrafluoroethylene—a waxy, water-repellent, non-stick substance. Du Pont soon saw the potential of Plunkett’s discovery and began mass producing PTFE, but it wasn’t until 1954, when the wife of French engineer Marc Grégoire asked her husband to use the same substance to coat her cookware to stop food sticking to her pans, that the true usefulness of Plunkett’s discovery was finally realized.

4. Slinky

In 1943, naval engineer Richard T. James was working at a shipyard in Philadelphia when he accidentally knocked a spring (that he had been trying to modify into a stabilizer for sensitive maritime equipment) from a high shelf. To his surprise, the spring neatly uncoiled itself and stepped its way down from the shelf and onto a pile of books, and from there onto a tabletop, and then onto the floor. After two years of development, the first batch of 400 “Slinky” toys sold out in just 90 minutes when they were demonstrated in the toy department of a local Gimbels store in 1945.

5. Silly Putty

At the height of World War II, rubber was rationed across the United States after Japan invaded a number of rubber-producing countries across southeast Asia and hampered production. The race was on to find a suitable replacement—a synthetic rubber that could be produced inside the U.S. without the need of overseas imports, which eventually led to the entirely unexpected invention of Silly Putty. There are at least two rival claims to the invention of Silly Putty (chiefly from chemist Earl L. Warrick and Scottish-born engineer James Wright), both of whom found that mixing boric acid with silicone oil produced a stretchy, bouncy rubber-like substance that also had the unusual ability of leaching newspaper print from a page (an ability that changing technology has now eliminated).

6. Post-It Notes

Pexels, Pixabay

In 1968, a 3M chemist named Dr. Spencer Silver was attempting to create a super-strong adhesive when instead he accidentally invented a super-weak adhesive, which could be used to only temporarily stick things together. The seemingly limited application of Silver’s product meant that it sat unused at 3M (then technically known as Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing) for another five years, until, in 1973, a colleague named Art Fry attended one of Silver’s seminars and struck upon the idea that his impermanent glue could be used to stick bookmarks into the pages of his hymnbook. It took another few years for 3M to be convinced both of Fry and Silver’s idea and of the salability of their product, but eventually they came up with a unique design that worked perfectly: a thin film of Spencer’s adhesive was applied along just one edge of a piece of paper. After a failed test-market push in 1977 as Press ’N Peel, the product went national as the Post-It note in 1980.

7. Saccharin

In 1878 or '79 (sources differ), Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist studying the properties of oxidized coal tar at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, discoveredwhile eating his meal one evening that food he picked up with this fingers tasted sweeter than normal. He traced the sweetening effect back to the chemical he had been working with that day (Ortho-sulfobenzoic Acid Imide, no less) and, noting its potential salability, quickly set up a business mass producing his sweetener under the name Saccharin. Although quickly popular (and equally quickly controversial), it would take the sugar shortages of two World Wars to make the discovery truly universal.

8. Popsicles

The first popsicle was reportedly invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905, when he accidentally left a container of powdered soda and water, with its mixing stick still inside, on his porch overnight. One unexpectedly cold night later, and the popsicle—which Epperson originally marketed 20 years later as an Epsicle—was born.

9. Safety glass

Safety glass—or rather, laminated glass—was accidentally discovered by the French chemist Édouard Bénédictus when he knocked a glass beaker from a high shelf in his laboratory and found, to his surprise, that it shattered but did not break. His assistant informed him that the beaker had contained cellulose nitrate, a type of clear natural plastic, that had left a film on the inside of the glass. He filed a patent for his discovery in 1909, and it has been in production (albeit in various different forms) ever since.