This Popular Chocolate Dessert Was Invented By Accident

Good things come to those who wait. They also may come to those who totally screw up a cake recipe. Like a surprisingly large handful of some of the most iconic food and beverage products of all time — including Popsicles, potato chips, Coca-Cola, and beer — one of the most classic and beloved desserts was invented by complete and utter accident. If it were not for an inadvertent kitchen mishap, who knows if and when we would have ever been able to indulge in a pan of warm, chewy, freshly baked bliss at midnight? If you have not already guessed, we are talking about brownies.

The brownie, as we have all come to know and love, is a chocolate lover's dream. Since their creation (more on that in a moment), brownies have taken on many forms and have been the shining star of countless bake sales, picnics, office parties, birthday bashes, and neighborhood welcomes. Something about brownies — whether it's their luscious aroma that fills the entire home, that decadent, fudgy flavor that is revealed in every single bite, or how they have the effortless power to make just about anybody smile — is pure magic. The first-ever brownie recipe, however, was not necessarily... planned.

How and by whom was the brownie invented?

One of the most widely recognized stories of the brownie's serendipitous origin is cited in "Betty Crocker's Baking Classics" cookbook. Once upon a time, there lived a woman named Mildred Brown Schrumpf. The Bangor, Maine housewife was baking a chocolate cake, but as soon as she removed the pan from the oven, it deflated (per MSN). The reason? She allegedly forgot to add baking powder, an essential ingredient that is considered a leavening agent, which increases the volume and lightens the texture of dough- or batter-based baked goods.

But Schrumpf's whoopsie did not stop her from becoming an East Coast — and later on, international — legend. In fact, her food knowledge was so admired and trusted by the community, the University of Maine home economics instructor was named the "Unofficial Ambassador of Good Eating" by the Maine Department of Agriculture and wrote a weekly food column for the Bangor Daily News from 1951 to 1994 (via New England Historical Society). And it's pure coincidence that the persevering foodie's nickname was, of course, Brownie (via The University of Maine).

However, several brownie fans give credit to two other women: Bertha Palmer, the president of the Ladies Board for Managers for Exposition, who supplied brownies for hotel guests, and Fanny Farmer, the first person to publish a recipe for "brownies" in a cookbook (via Mental Floss). Whoever the true creator of the brownie was, she deserves endless sweet praise.