Many of the world's most famous brands and products started out as something entirely different than what they are known for today. Some of the best discoveries have happen by accident, such as Silly Putty…and, of course, the 11 products listed here that range from soft drinks originally laced with powerful mind-altering drugs to medicines with unexpected, but profitable, side-effects.
COCA-COLA STARTED OUT AS A CURE FOR MORPHINE ADDICTION
Dr. John Pemberton invented the original formula of the syrupy soft drink in 1886. He had been badly injured in the battle of Columbus and, as a result, had became hopelessly addicted to prescription morphine. Being a trained pharmacist, Pemberton decided to come up with his own addiction cure. This resulted in Pemberton's French Wine Coca, a drink that contained alcohol and cocoa leaf extract—the same ingredient that makes cocaine. When Coca-Cola first appeared on the market it was labeled as a nerve tonic that "relieves exhaustion." Cocaine was removed from the product in 1903.
LISTERINE STARTED OUT AS AN ANTI-SEPTIC
Surprisingly, the mouth was you've been using for years was originally marketed as a floor cleaner, a cure for gonorrhea, and was also used as a surgical antiseptic. It did not become commercially successful until re-branded as a cure for bad breath.
BUBBLE WRAP WAS ORIGINALLY MARKETED AS WALLPAPER
Marc Chavannes and Alfred Fielding had been attempting to come up with a new style of textured wallpaper and as a result of their efforts, according to Forbes magazine, in 1957 they created bubble wrap. They sealed together two shower curtains, which made the first layer of the bubbles. They tried selling the product first as wallpaper and later as greenhouse insulation without any success. It was not until IBM launched the 1401 computer in 1959 that bubble wrap was first used for the purpose of keeping products safe in transit.
THE SLINKY WAS MEANT TO STABILIZE NAVAL EQUIPMENT ON ROUGH SEAS
According to Time magazine, the slinky is one of the most influential toys ever. However, the fascinating metal springs were originally invented for a much more practical purpose: stabilizing devices on ships on choppy seas. It was not until the instrument-stabilizer was accidentally knocked off a shelf and appeared to walk across a desk that its inventor, Richard James, realized that it could be a toy. James once said: "Strictly speaking, I didn't invent the Slinky. He practically walked into my life."
VIAGRA WAS DESIGNED TO LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Scientists who developed Sildenafil Citrate, better known today as Viagra, were hoping it could lower blood pressure and treat the heart problem Angina. During clinical trials they discovered some surprising side effects—the male participants experienced erections. Curing erectile dysfunction became an incredibly lucrative future for the drug. In 2007, its original purpose was vindicated. Scientists showed that as well as boosting blood flow to the penis, the drug could also increase the amount of blood sent to the heart and lungs according.
7UP WAS ORIGINALLY A MOOD-STABILIZING DRUG
7UP started out with a long and boring name: Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. As the name implies, the lemon-lime flavored drink contained lithium, a drug used in the treatment of people suffering from bipolar disorder. According to The New York Times, 7UP contained lithium until 1950. It has even been suggested that the "7" in the name refers to lithium's atomic mass and "UP" had to do with an improved mood after using the product.
ROGAINE WAS INTENDED AS A BLOOD-PRESSURE TREATMENT
Rogaine is the commercial name for minoxidil—a drug which can help reduce high blood pressure. It's second use was discovered by patients taking the blood-pressure medication Loniten (which also contains minoxidil). They noticed increased hair growth on their scalp. Realizing the commercial value of this side-effect, Rogaine was made available as a hair loss solution in 1988.
FRISBEES WERE ORIGINALLY PIE CONTAINERS
William Russell Frisbie bought a bakery in Connecticut in the late 19th century, which he called the Frisbie Pie Company. After Frisbie's death, his company continued to flourish and in 1956 reached a peak production of 80,000 pies per day. Pies and cookies made by the company were purchased in a plate-shaped tin bearing the name "Frisbee Pies." Yale students discovered a second use for the tins, and began to hurl them around the university campus. As the flying disk approached its target, the thrower would shout "Frisbie" as a warning. The slightly different spelling "frisbee" is now used for the toy.
CHAINSAWS WERE DEVELOPED AS A TOOL FOR CUTTING BONES DURING OPERATIONS
The earliest mention of the chainsaw comes from the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which says the original purpose of the chainsaw was to cut bone in operations. The journal says: "Orthopedics became a specialty with the help of a new instrument, the osteotome, invented around 1830 by the German Bernard Heine. An illustration from a contemporary inventory of surgical tools shows that this clever master of prosthetics had in fact invented the chainsaw."
WD-40 WAS USED FOR LUBRICATING MISSILES
WD-40 is most commonly used to protect metal implements from moisture and to loosen tight screws. Around 80% of US households own a can of the stuff. It was originally used for lubricating nuclear missiles during the Cold War era. It was created by a small San Diego company, Rocket Chemical, and its retail name of WD-40 is an abbreviation for "water displacement, 40th attempt" at coming up with a viable product for the initial use.
PLAY-DOH WAS FIRST USED AS A WALLPAPER CLEANER
Cleo and Noah McVicker developed the putty in 1933 to help clean up soot-covered walls [the Travel Channel's Mysteries At The Museum did a segment on this]. Made from a simple combination of flour, water, and salt, it was meant to be rolled across walls to remove dirt. However, the introduction of vinyl wallpaper (easy to clean with just soap and water) meant the concoction became unnecessary. But then, the company discovered that the formula could be used as a pliable modeling clay. Renamed Play-Doh, it was put on sale for this purpose in 1956.