Who Invented the Chocolate Chip Cookie?

I love classic recipes, great ones that work every time. For the brownies, I love Katherine Hepburn’s, it’s always a success. After multiple disappointing attempts with chocolate chip cookies, I started to go back to the source. Here are my findings:

Who created the Chocolate Chip Cookie?

It turns out that the story of the creation of the Chocolate Chip Cookie is pretty well-known. In fact, it’s one that is so perfectly cooked that it seems that it is somewhat fake. I’m pretty sure it’s more fiction than reality, but it is what we’ve got.

The chocolate chip cookie’s creation is attributed to American chef Ruth Wakefield who baked it for the first time at the Toll House Inn, her popular restaurant in eastern Massachusetts that she co-owned with her husband, Kenneth Wakefield.

Ruth Graves, who was born on June 17, 1903, in East Walpole, Massachusetts, began a varied career after earning her degree in household arts from Framingham State Normal School in 1924. She held positions as a customer service director for a utility business, a hospital dietician, and a home economics instructor. She wed Kenneth Wakefield in 1926, and the two of them later bought a house in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, where they started the Toll House Inn.

The Toll House Inn rapidly became well-known for its delicious treats, notably the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie,” a forerunner of the chocolate chip cookie. Ruth Wakefield developed a broad variety of meals and sweets, some of which she learned to make from her grandmother and others that she came up with on her own. Some of these well-liked recipes were featured in “Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes,” which she published in 1931.

The Happy Accidental Chocolate Chip Cookie

According to legend, Ruth Wakefield’s quest to create the chocolate chip cookie was motivated by a desire to provide her restaurant’s customers with something unique. She started with a little butterscotch nut cookie that was accompanied by ice cream. She was still inspired to try new cuisines by her innovative nature. She had intended to melt squares of Baker’s chocolate and stir them into the cookie dough. But things turned in another direction.

An idea began to take shape when she was traveling back from an Egypt holiday. She had a Nestlé semisweet bar instead of Baker’s chocolate, and since she didn’t have much time to melt it, she used an ice pick to break it up into pea-sized pieces. The first chocolate chip cookie was made by combining these pieces with brown sugar and nut dough. She didn’t anticipate the chunks of chocolate to stay lumpy while they cooked.

An ad for the Nestlé Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Why is it believed that this is the legend more than the real story? It turns out that Ruth Wakefield had the reputation of being a fastidious cook and her dedication to her art is well-known. Basically, she knew too much to have accidents in her kitchen. It’s more probable that she purposefully developed this recipe. Saying it was accidentally probably added to the marketing potential of the cookie.

The Chocolate Chip Cookie’s Journey to Stardom

The popularity of the Toll House cookie surged during World War II when soldiers from Massachusetts shared these treats from home with their fellow soldiers. Ruth Wakefield received letters from around the world requesting her recipe, catapulting the chocolate chip cookie’s fame beyond the East Coast. Nestlé recognized the cookie’s potential and acquired the rights to reproduce her recipe on its packages, accompanied by a lifetime supply of chocolate for Ruth.

By pre-scoring its chocolate bars for simple baking, Nestlé elevated the chocolate chip cookie to new heights. They also introduced chocolate chips, or Nestlé Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels. Every home baker may use the recipe because it was printed on the packaging. The recipe changed throughout time to incorporate contemporary items like pre-sifted flour.

The chocolate chip cookie became so well-known that its name was made generic by law. Nestlé no longer had the sole right to use the Toll House brand, a federal judge determined in 1983. Although the Toll House Inn may have vanished into obscurity, the Nestlé Toll House cookie endures, having undergone innumerable modifications and alterations, none of which, in the opinion of food experts, have exceeded Ruth Wakefield’s original recipe.

The Original Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

There is another version that is available on the Nestle website.

  • 1.5 cups (350 mL) shortening
  • 1.5 cups (265 mL) sugar
  • 1.5 cups (265 mL) brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoon (7.5 g) salt
  • 3.125 cups (750 mL) of flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon (7.5 g) hot water
  • 1.5 teaspoon (7.5 g) baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoon (7.5 g) vanilla
  • 2 bars (7 oz.) Nestlé’s yellow label chocolate, semi-sweet, which has been cut into pieces the size of a pea.
  • Mixed everything together, and do as you always do with cookies.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes

For more food history, I also wrote about the invention of Nutella, the story of the Apple Crumble, the Gingerbread, and more.

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