Cheese Puffs Might Be The Happiest Of Accidents In The Snack Food World

Americans love all sorts of snack foods, and unsurprisingly, many of them heavily feature cheese. In particular, puffed cheese. You're probably most familiar with the Cheetos brand version, which has had a huge cultural imprint, from the flamin' hot craze that resulted in the worst Mountain Dew flavor to ever exist, to being one of the first brands to really embrace the "Xtreme" advertising craze of the late '90s and early 2000s.

Even though the Cheetos brand may be one the most popular cheese puffs in America, there are plenty of brands of the iconic snack that have been around for years. In fact, cheese puffs themselves are probably a lot older than you think. Surprisingly, they didn't come from a rigorous and targeted design process — their creation was entirely accidental. If you enjoy cheese puffs (or cheese curls, or whatever you want to call them) on the regular, you actually have livestock to thank. You can send your thank you note to a particular Wisconsin animal feed manufacturer that created a booming new snack product due to a faulty industrial grinder.

If you enjoy cheese puffs, you can thank horses for their creation

Though the story of the creation of the cheese puff might be unexpected, its location in America's cheesiest state comes as no surprise. The Flakall Corporation in Beloit, Wisconsin, was an animal feed manufacturer that created its product by serving corn through a grinder, causing the feed to flake out and making it easier for animals to digest.

The problem was that the grinder had a tendency to clog, and one of the solutions workers came up with was to instead run moistened corn through the machine, the heat of which caused the kernels to puff up. One experiment with cheese flavoring later and the first cheese puff was born. Flakell eventually formed the Adams Corporation to manufacture the new product. While "Chester Cheetah" has more of a ring to it, our cheese puff mascot might have once been Chester Horse.

Cheese puffs weren't the only delicious treat invented unintentionally

Like cheese puffs, a surprising number of foods have actually been created by accident. Toasted ravioli, the signature snack of St. Louis, Missouri, was supposedly invented when a drunk chef accidentally dropped a bunch of ravioli into the fryer. Worcestershire sauce owes its invention to its original chemists trying to create something different, then forgetting about a bottle of the stuff in the cellar, only to discover it two years later. Popsicles were created by a forgetful 11-year-old kid named Frank Epperson who left a sugary drink mix outside overnight, where it froze.

Perhaps the most famous accidental food creation, and certainly the oldest, is butter. Legend has it, around 8000 BC, an African shepherd stored milk in a sheepskin container on one of his animals. When he opened it later, the jostling of the sheep moving around had created what we know today as the delicious concoction that makes toast worthwhile.