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TheStreet Open House

17 Products That Were Invented by Accident

Silly Putty

Silly Putty, that beige blob beloved by kids, is another winning product that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Since 1950, 300 million eggs of the stuff -- roughly 4,500 tons -- have been sold, according to Crayola, which now owns the brand.

The widely-cited version of Silly Putty's creation (for which there are conflicting accounts) credits James Wright, an inventor employed by General Electric (GE), with discovering the rubbery mix of boric acid and silicone oil in 1943. Like many chemists during World War II, he was seeking a synthetic rubber substitute amid a shortage of the real stuff. As fake rubber, the goo was a failure; as Wright shopped around his creation, however, a toyshop owner came up with the idea to market it to kids.

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