The HISTORY of
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

history of chocolate chip cookies

Before delving into the history of chocolate chip cookies,
let's first look at the history of cookies more generally.

  • Cookies appear to have their origins in 7th century AD Persia, shortly after the use of sugar became relatively common in the region.
  • The word "cookie" derives from the Dutch word koekje, which meant "little cake". In some countries a cookie is called a "biscuit", which comes from the Latin phrase bis coctum, meaning "twice baked".
  • The first historic record of cookies describes them as "test cakes". Apparently, before attempting to bake an entire cake, a sample of cake batter would be cooked in order to test the temperature of an oven. Then, this sample was baked a second time, along with the larger cake, often causing it to come out crispy.
  • By the end of the 14th century in Europe, cookies/biscuits were valued as a separate delicacy, and could be bought.
  • They were enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic by the end of the 17th century.


The history of chocolate chip cookies
is like many great discoveries... accidental.

Ruth Graves Wakefield (1903-1977) was a 1924 graduate of the Framingham State Normal School, Department of Household Arts, where she later worked as a dietitian and gave lectures on cuisine.

In 1930, Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield purchased the Toll House Inn, an historic Cape Cod-style house located on the outskirts of Whitman, Mass. Originally constructed in 1709, the house had served as a stop for travelers.

In keeping with its history, the Wakefields served traditional Colonial meals. Ruth did the baking, and it was her policy to give diners a whole extra helping of their entrées and a serving of her homemade cookies to take home with them.

It's agreed that Mrs. Wakefield invented
the chocolate chip cookie in the early 1930s.
It's not agreed exactly how...

Nestlé's history of chocolate chip cookies...
One day, while preparing her favorite cookie recipe for guests (Butter Drop Do Cookies), Ruth found herself without the baker's chocolate she needed. So, she chopped a bar of Nestlé Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny pieces and put them into the batter, presuming they would melt and mix with the batter upon baking. The small chocolate chips did not melt completely, they actually held their shape and only softened. She served the cookies anyway, they were a big hit, and, alas, the chocolate chip cookie was born.

A contradiction...
A different history of chocolate chip cookies derives from George Boucher, one-time head chef at the Toll House Inn, and Carol Cavanagh, his daughter and fellow Inn employee.

Contrary to Nestlé's account, Carol claims that Mrs. Wakefield, already an accomplished chef and cookbook author, knew enough about the properties of chocolate to know it wouldn't melt and mix into the batter while baking.

Mr. Boucher alleges that the vibrations from a large Hobart electric mixer dislodged bars of Nestlé's chocolate stored on the shelf above the mixer. The bars fell into the sugar cookie dough, the mixer then broke them up, and the pieces were mixed in. It was his assertion that Mrs. Wakefield wanted to discard the dough as too badly ruined to waste effort baking, but he dissuaded her, leading to the discovery of the popular combination.


Regardless of what the true history of chocolate chip cookies actually is, the new cookies became very popular at the Inn. Ruth’s recipe was published in several newspapers throughout New England, and sales of Nestlé’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar soared.

Eventually, Andrew Nestlé and Ruth Wakefield collaborated on a deal: The Nestlé Co. would print Ruth's cookie recipe on the wrapper of every Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar and Ruth would get a lifetime supply of Nestlé chocolate.

As a way to capitalize on the recipe's popularity, Nestlé tried to make it easy for people to make the cookies by including a small chopping tool with its chocolate bars.

Finally, in 1939, the Nestlé Co. began producing the Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels that we know today.

You can’t visit the Toll House Inn today.
In 1966, Kenneth and Ruth sold it and retired to Duxbury, Massachusetts. It was bought by a family that converted it into a nightclub.
In 1970, it was bought by the Saccone family, who restored it to the original Toll House Inn and Restaurant.
Unfortunately, in 1984, on New Year's Eve, the building burned down.


Some interesting facts related to the history of chocolate chip cookies:

~On July 9, 1997, Massachusetts designated the chocolate chip cookie as the Official State Cookie, after it was proposed by a 3rd grade class from Somerset.

~Nestlé touts the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie as the most popular cookie of all time.

~Seven billion chocolate chip cookies are eaten annually.

~Half of the cookies baked in American homes are chocolate chip.

~National Chocolate Chip Day is May 15th.

~In addition to the original on Nestlé's packaging, every bag of chocolate chips sold in North America has a slight variation of Ruth Wakefield's recipe printed on the back.

~Almost all baking-related cookbooks have at least one type of recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.



We now have all these great treats
thanks to the history of chocolate chip cookies:

CHOCOLATE Chocolate Chips Cookies

CHOCOLATE CHUNK Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie CAKES



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