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It’s the Pitts: Whoops

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

I’m really hard on myself. I always have been. 

I spend a lot of time thinking about all of the mistakes I’ve made in  my life – all the cows I bought but shouldn’t have and the ones I should’ve bought but didn’t, rolling a forklift over an embankment, burning my six-year-old hand on the hot exhaust stack on my dad’s Kenworth, rounding over the threads on a half million dollar compressor in the oilfields, thinking I could make a living in the cattle business without any land or money, throwing an egg at the principal’s daughter and getting kicked out of school for three days as a result. 

I think you get the picture. 

Every time I get depressed and down on myself, I realize there’s a good chance most of what is good in American life came about as a result of someone’s mistake. This goes all the way back to our beginning. After all, Christopher Columbus meant to sail to Asia, not America.

In 1886, a pharmacist was trying to concoct a tonic for people who were tired, nervous or had sore teeth. When he and his assistant tasted the concoction, they found it to be lip-smacking good. 

When the assistant cooked up a second batch, he made the mistake of using carbonated water instead of water, and today, people all over the world drink over a billion cans and bottles of Coca Cola a day. 

I think you can guess what William Frisbee invented after making the mistake of ordering far too many pie pans for his baking company in Connecticut. 

Kimberly Clark was in the business of making filters for gas masks in World War I, but after the war ended, they had so many left over, they advertised the filters to women for taking off their makeup at night. When women complained their husbands were using them to blow their noses in, Kleenex was invented.

When one of the workers forgot to turn off a soap making machine when he left for lunch, too much air got into the soap. When the worker returned to work, he discovered his mistake produced a soap that floated on water. People really liked it because it came to the top of the tub when they lost it, and Ivory Soap was born.

When Ruth Wakefield was using a cookie recipe dating back to the 1830s, she didn’t have any chocolate powder so she cut up a Nestle chocolate bar thinking it would melt. When she took the cookies out of the oven, chocolate chip cookies were invented, and a grateful nation has gobbled them up ever since. 

Charles Goodyear was trying create rubber that didn’t melt if it got too hot or shatter when it got too cold when he accidentally dropped a blob of rubber mixed with sulfur on a hot stove. Today you ride on the result. 

Just think, had it not been for his mistake there’d be no Goodyear blimp at football games.

In 1903 when a shipload of coffee beans from Europe to America got waterlogged, Dr. Ludwig Roselius roasted the beans anyway and accidentally discovered they were 97 percent caffeine-free. 

Potato chips came about in 1853 when a chef named George Crum lost patience with a frequent customer who constantly complained his French fries were too thick. As a joke, Crum sliced a potato into paper-thin slices, and the customer and everyone else loved his potato chips.

You gotta love the fact chips were invented by a guy named Crum.

Post-it notes were mistakenly invented in 1968 when a 3M researcher was trying to make a better adhesive and ended up with one that was hardly sticky at all. Another 3M researcher was a member of his church choir and used the semi-sticky glue on bookmarks in his hymnal. Now one wonders how we ever lived without Post-it notes.

I could go on and on. 

Penicillin was the result of a mistake, as was the pacemaker. Mistakes aren’t always bad things. In fact, if you read about all of the mistakes which resulted in wonderful and even life-saving products, one realizes maybe the key to success in life is to make more mistakes more often. 

But, I could be mistaken about that.

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