The Man Who Invented The First Artificial Sweetener By Not Washing His Hands

Ira Remsen, a chemist at Johns Hopkins University, is credited with the discovery of Saccharin in 1879. The invention was merely an accident though.

Here’s the story.

Ira Remsen was working in developing coal tar derivatives after testing the purity of a shipment of sugar. One day during that period, he returned to his home to enjoy his meal as he did everyday but failed to wash his hands. While he was eating a piece a bread, he noticed that the bite he just took was incredibly sweet. When he realized that the sweetness of the bread came from chemicals that he spilled into his hands, Remsen was excited. (the article continues after the ad)

He went back into his lab, and tasted every chemical he’d left on his desk until he landed on a beaker filled with sulfobenzoic acid, phosphorus chloride and ammonia. This cocktail had boiled over earlier in the day, creating Saccharin, the first artificial sweetener ever created!

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Abner Doubleday, The Man Who Supposedly Invented Baseball, Had Nothing To Do With It 

Photo: JHU Sheridan Libraries

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