Chocolate Chip Cookie
She was a food educator and a dietitian. But it was her invention of the American iconic food, the chocolate chip cookie, that made Ruth Graves Wakefield famous.
In 1930, Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth Wakefield, bought a toll house in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts. Built in 1709, the toll house was a stopover for weary travellers to pay their tolls, change their horses, and stretch their legs. After acquiring it, the Wakefields decided to continue with the tradition by maintaining it as a place of lodging and food for travellers.
The Toll House, as they named it, soon became famous for their lobster dishes and desserts. One of their popular desserts was a thin butterscotch nut cookie served with ice cream. “Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different”, said Ruth Wakefield in an interview.“While many of these speculations involved a twist of fate, food writer Carolyn Wyman argues that Wakefield’s success was ‘by dint of training, (and) hard work'”.
Hence, in 1933, Wakefield’s intention of creating “something different” came the genesis of the chocolate chip cookie, which she christened it as Toll House Cookie. How Wakefield perfected her recipe drew much speculation. Many claimed that in her desperate attempt to replace the nuts, which she had run out of for her butterscotch cookie, she had them replaced with a Nestle chocolate bar instead. Another claim was that Wakefield had initially wanted to melt some Baker’s Chocolate before adding them to her experiment of a new cookie dough. However, she realised she had run out of this new main ingredient. Wakefield then decided to make do with a Nestle chocolate bar instead, by slicing them into chunks before adding them into the batter. Others said it was the vibration from an industrial mixer that caused the Nestle chocolate bar to fall from the top shelf into her cookie batter.
While many of these speculations involved a twist of fate, food writer Carolyn Wyman argues that Wakefield’s success was “by dint of training, (and) hard work”. In her book Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book, Wyman said it was impossible for Wakefield to run out of the most basic ingredients such as nuts and Baker’s Chocolate when their kitchen was famous for their desserts; Wakefield wouldn’t have allowed that. Wyman believes Wakefield “knew what she was doing”, and her invention of chocolate chip cookie was no accident, but a plan carried out with intention. Moreover, Wakefield was, according to Wyman’s research, known for being a perfectionist who planned everything out. Hence, with her credentials as a trained cook and a businesswoman with foresight, all the tall stories surrounding the creation of chocolate chip cookie were highly implausible.
On 20 March 1939, Nestle successfully acquired rights to use Wakefield’s recipe and the Toll House name, all for just a price of a dollar. Although Wakefield never did receive the one-dollar payment from Nestle, she was given a free lifetime supply of chocolates and was later hired as their consultant.
In 1967, the Wakefields sold the inn and retired to Duxbury, Massachusetts, where Ruth Wakefield died in 1977.
On New Year’s eve of 1984, a fire started in the kitchen and burned down Toll House. A historical marker and a plague could be found at its site to memorialise Toll House‘s significance in American history.
Made from a soft dough that is bound together by mixing dry and wet ingredients. Its primary ingredient will be chocolate chips. The dough will then be hardened by heat when being baked in the oven at around 170-175 degree Celsius.
Common ingredients are flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla essence and chocolate chips. Some ingredients include the use of milk or milk powder, which is said to have the effect of giving a chewy texture to the cookie.