The Accidental Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie
Unlike the anonymous inventors of such American staples as the hot dog, the grilled-cheese sandwich, and the milkshake, the creator of the chocolate-chip cookie has always been known to us, Ruth Wakefield,
She was a Depression-era owner of the Toll House restaurant in Whitman, Mass. Ruth decided in 1938 to improve the appeal of some butterscotch cookies she had been serving alongside dishes of ice cream by adding some cut-up pieces of bakers chocolate. But as she started to bake she discovered she was out of baker’s chocolate. She then decided to chop up a block of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate. She expected the chocolate to melt and disperse through the cookie dough which happened with regular baking chocolate. Instead, the chocolate pieces retained their individual shape, softening to a moist, gooey melt, and the world had its first known chocolate chip cookie.
The recipe, which has been tweaked over the ensuing decades, made its first appearance in print in the 1938 edition of Wakefield’s “Tried and True” cookbook. On March 20, 1939, Wakefield gave Nestlé the right to use her cookie recipe and the Toll House name, the price was a dollar.
Her recipe led to the invention of one of only a few food products created for use in a specific recipe—the chocolate chip.