Few can resist the tantalizing aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven on a cold wintry afternoon and that first gooey, warm bite.
It's been estimated that the average person consumes 35,000 cookies in their lifetime, and of those, 50% are Chocolate Chip.
It all started with the purchase of an old (1709) rundown Cape Cod-style toll house* in the Boston/New Bedford area in 1930, by a young married couple named Ken and Ruth Wakefield. They used their life savings, at a time in history when others might have hesitated. It was the Great Depression. They called their new tourist lodge The Toll House Inn.
|The Wakefield's Toll House Inn (fully restored)|
|Ruth Graves Wakefield (1903-1977)|
Ruth, as an educated dietician and home economist, took on the cooking for the guests. The Toll House Inn restaurant flourished and became quite popular with the locals. Guests grew to love (and expect) a cookie on the menu called Butter Drop-Do Cookies . . . but that's when the accident occurred, sometime around 1937 (the actual date is still debated).
|Butter Drop-Do Cookies|
The recipe called for melted squares of baking chocolate, but when Ruth checked the pantry one evening, she discovered she was out. With guests waiting, and seeing some Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate bars on the shelf, she decided to substitute the bars. Breaking the bars into pieces, she fully expected the chocolate to melt and blend into the dough. Well, of course it didn't, and the rest is history. The new cookie was a huge hit and was called Chocolate Crispy Cookies at first (another source claims it was called Chocolate Crunch Cookies).
|The kind of chocolate Ruth used|
Word spread as the cookie gained in popularity. Meanwhile the demand for Nestles Chocolate increased dramatically, as did the company's profits. A deal was finally made in 1939 between Ruth and the owner, Andrew Nestles. Henceforth, the agreement said, Nestles would give Ruth a lifetime supply of chocolate and print the cookie's recipe on the Nestles package. Besides the great taste, it is the main reason Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies are America's most popular cookie today.
Sadly, The Toll House Inn burned
to the ground in 1985.
Curious about the first recipe?
The original recipe was printed in the Syracuse Herald-Journal in 1940, as taken from Ruth Wakefield's cookbook:
1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar [packed]
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten, whole
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon hot water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2 Nestle's Semi-Sweet Economy Bars (7 oz ea)
1 teaspoon vanilla
"Important: Cut the Nestle's Semi-Sweet in pieces the size of a pea. Cream butter and add sugars and beaten egg. Dissolve soda in the hot water and mix alternately with the flour sifted with the salt. Lastly add the chopped nuts and the pieces of semi-sweet chocolate. Flavor with the vanilla and drop half teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in a 375° F. oven. Makes 100 cookies. Every one will be surprised and delighted to find that the chocolate does not melt. Insist on Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate in the Yellow Wrap, there is no substitute."
Ruth added the recipe to a revised cookbook, with this note:
"At Toll House we chill this dough overnight. When ready for baking, we roll a teaspoon of dough between palms of hands and place balls two inches apart on greased baking sheet. Then we press balls with finger tips to form flat rounds. This way cookies do not spread as much in the baking and they keep uniformly round. They should be brown through, and crispy, not white and hard as I have sometimes seen them."
Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl