How Animal Feed Led To The Creation Of Cheese Puffs

Cheese puffs, cheese doodles, cheese curls — whatever you prefer to call them, these now-ubiquitous junk food snacks were actually discovered by accident.

The corn puffs join a long line of food products that were invented by chance, including Wheaties cereal, which was the inadvertent result of bran gruel spilled over a hot stove flaking into a crisp. Appropriately enough, cheese puffs were created in none other than Wisconsin, which many call "America's Dairyland." Wisconsin is also the home of fried cheese curds and cheeseheads, with the latter serving as the nickname for fans of the state's NFL team, the Green Bay Packers.

According to MSN, the origin of cheese puffs dates back to the 1930s, in an animal feed factory in Beloit, Wisconsin called the Flakall Company. The actual discovery is credited to a Flakall Company employee named Edward Wilson. Per Atlas Obscura, Flakall Company's method of producing animal feed — running corn material "through a grinder" — led to the creation of cheese puffs.

A clogged machine reaps cheese puff dreams

When the Flakall Company produced its animal feed, the grinder machine would occasionally clog and gum up. To address the problem, employees would add moistened corn to the grinder, which puffed up like a professional weightlifter flexing their pecs because of the heat of the machine (via Atlas Obscura).

Enter Wilson, who recognized potential in the puffed corn. The budding entrepreneur brought some of the puffed corn home with him and added seasoning to improve the taste. His culinary science experiment proved satisfactory, and Wilson gave them the alliterative (albeit improperly spelled) name Korn Kurls. Flakall Company would use the cheese puff discovery to transition into the human food product industry, changing its name to the Adams Corporation.

And that's how a food item originally intended for cows became a snack staple for people. Now, if only they could invent an accompanying contraption to easily scrape off all that neon orange dust from your fingers.