Ruth Graves Wakefield invents the chocolate chip cookie

Ruth Graves Wakefield

“In August of 1930, Mr. Wakefield and I bought a lovely old Cape Cod house, built in 1709 on the outskirts of Whitman, Massachusetts. At one time it was used as a toll house, where passengers ate, changed horses, and paid toll. It was here that we started our inn, calling it The Toll House.”

Ruth Graves Wakefield served as the chef at The Toll House. Where her kitchen became famous for many delicacies, including lobster dishes and thin butterscotch nut cookies with ice cream.

But Ruth, ever the innovator, decided to try something new one day. Using a semi-sweet chocolate bar from Nestle, she cut small pieces of chocolate and added them to the dough. She expected the chocolate to melt in the oven, but the pieces didn’t. They kept their shape and even softened.

She named her cookie the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie.” And these cookies became popular with guests. So popular that newspapers around New England began publishing their recipe.

Then during WWII, soldiers from Massachusetts received cookies in their care packages from families, which they shared with fellow soldiers, who also fell in love with Ruth’s cookies. These soldiers reached out to their families with requests for the cookies, growing their popularity well beyond New England.

As the cookies became more and more popular, Nestle noticed that sales of their chocolate bars which were used in making the cookies also increased. Nestle offered to buy the recipe rights and name from Ruth. She accepted. For $1 and a lifetime supply of Nestle Chocolate.

Ruth had a simple philosophy to cooking: “I still believe in small quantity cookery, as giving the best results in flavor, consistency and general quality, especially in baking, and I know there are no substitutes for butter, cream, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables in preparing a fine meal.”

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