A Glance Backwards at the Sweet History of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ah! Cookies! A wonderful sense of smell fills me at the very thought of these cutie tit-bits. Nostalgia grips me as I remember the days when I came home from school only to be greeted by my mom waiting for me with a handful of chocolate chip cookies. The very sight gave me a unique kind of happiness that I can’t explain even now. Lately becoming curious, I tried to seek out the history of the chocolate chip cookie, one of the nicest inventions that the 20th century had in store. I found something great which I would definitely like to share with you guys.

Going back to the 18th century, there was a hotel which was located between New Bedford and Boston. It was a relaxing and eating place for the travelers, while their driver stopped to pay their toll. Although the toll roads gradually went off the scene, this inn made its way into the 20th century.

In the year 1930, this Cape Cod type building was in a dilapidated state. However, Ruth and Kenneth Wakefield, a married couple bought it. It was their dream to make the inn a very popular one so that travelers and local people would visit the place for eating and staying. At that time, considering the Great Depression, it was a risky undertaking. However, the determined couple moved ahead, with Ken taking the responsibility of managing the restoration and Ruth developing a menu for the restaurant. As a token of respect for the history of the building, they named it “The Toll House”.

Now, you must be wondering- where are cookies amidst all these? Wait! Let me tell you more. 1933 witnessed “The Toll House” becoming very popular with travelers and local people flocking to savor the taste of the yummy New England style dishes prepared by Ruth. One of the specialties was the Butter Drop-Do cookie that was served to guests fresh from the oven after their meals. This cookie, a favorite of New England for over a century, was prepared by mixing melted chocolate with the batter, and tasted wonderful.

As guests increasingly expected these cookies, Ruth had to prepare the dough in advance so that guests can readily be served fresh from the oven. One afternoon, while preparing the cookies, she found that there was no stock left of baker’s chocolate. Instead she used some Nestles Semi-sweet Chocolate Bars that were there on a sideboard table. To Ruth’s surprise, the end product was not of the same texture or look. Instead, the cookies had a different getup with the chocolate pieces remaining intact and sticky. However, guests preferred these new treat much more than the traditional ones. This new product was named “Chocolate Crispy Cookies”.

Marjorie Mills, a Boston newspaper food editor and a friend of the Wakefield’s, printed this recipe and also talked about it in a radio show. As words spread, stores bought more and more Nestles Semi-sweet Chocolate Bars. The Nestle Company soon noticed this huge sale and struck a deal with Ruth. In exchange for printing the cookie recipe on the Nestle wrapper, Ruth can have all the chocolate required for making these cookies for free. This “Toll House” recipe still remains America’s favorite, in spite of so many modern variations of the chocolate chip cookie.


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