Who was the first person to have a cup of coffee? Who decided that putting meat between two slices of bread was a good idea? Discover the answers to these questions and more with this list of our favorite food origin stories! We can’t exactly guarantee that these stories are all historically accurate, but even if they aren’t true they are still fun to think about.


A popular origin story for coffee is that a goat herder named Kaldi discovered the beans after noticing that his goats were acting strange. Kaldi observed that his herd became very energetic (some versions say his goats were dancing) after eating the beans off of a certain shrub.  After realizing the unique properties of these (coffee) beans, Kaldi took them to a local monastery to try to make sense of what to do with them (Monks were the most education men of the time). The head of the monastery thought that the beans were evil and he threw them in a fire. However, after smelling the delicious aroma of the beans roasting the head monk reconsidered, and made a beverage out of them. Go figure!

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The 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, of England apparently invented the sandwich as a result of not wanting to allow his gambling to be interrupted. The story goes that the Earl was hungry but did not want to quit playing cards. Montagu wanted something that he could eat while continuing to play, so he asked a waiter to bring him a slice of ham between two pieces of bread. Now the Earl could eat with one hand and play cards with the other, problem solved.

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Unlike some of these origins the discovery of the popsicle is more likely to be true than not. An 11 year old boy named Frank Epperson invented the popsicle after attempting to make a sugary beverage.  According to Popsicle.com in 1905 Epperson accidentally left a soda mixture outside with a stirring stick still in it. When temperatures fell below freezing overnight, Epperson came back to a rudimentary version of what would become the Popsicle.


Shennong, the Chinese emperor around 2700 BC, is attributed with discovering this extremely popular beverage. Do to health concerns, Shennong had issued  a decree that water had to be boiled before being consumed. One day while he was waiting for his freshly boiled water to cool, a few leaves from a nearby tea-plant blew into his pot of water. Shennong noticed that the tea had affected the flavor of his water! The rest is history.


Ranch Dressing

Like the Popsicle, Ranch Dressing also has a historically verifiable origin. It was definitely invented by Steve Henson in the 1950s, and its name is comes from an actual ranch!

Stenson and his wife owned Hidden Valley Ranch, an establishment where guests could enjoy the outdoors and see what life was like on a ranch. The Stensons would serve Steve’s original Ranch dressing to their guests, and it became wildly popular. At one point the Stensons decided to start commercially manufacturing the sauce. Eventually the Stensons’ product was bought out by Clorox brand, and evolved into the most popular condiment in America!

Next time you’re shopping at your local Sparkle Market  take a second to think about how your favorite food items came to be!