History of the Chocolate Chip Cookie and its Recipes

The Chocolate Chip cookie is one of America’s favorite childhood memories, and has evolved from its humble beginnings to become a necessity of the culture today. Variations from the traditional chocolate chip and walnut cookie now include additions of M&M candies, chocolate dough, the addition of other nuts and flavorings, and even cookie sandwiches! Despite these creative recipes, the original chocolate chip cookie continues to delight the young and old alike.

The first chocolate chip cookie as we know it today was invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield of Whitman, Massachusetts. She owned and ran the Tollhouse Restaurant, where she served classic butter drop cookies. The addition of semisweet chocolate came much later. This new recipe actually evolved from a mistake, as Ruth planned to stir in broken chunks of a semisweet baker’s chocolate bar to make a chocolate-flavored dough. Instead, the chunks kept their shape and form and resulted in ‘chocolate chips’ within each cookie. These cookies were initially crunchy, not chewy, and were very popular with the customers. Local inn travelers and frequent customers requested Ruth’s new bakery item, and they were a success! When word spread, the recipe was published in the Boston newspaper.

Betty Crocker heard about this famous find in 1939, at which point she featured it on her radio series. The Nestle chocolate company also took note of this new idea, and came to an agreement with Ruth to develop the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar with the recipe of the Tollhouse Cookie printed inside the wrapper. This bar could be easily broken into ‘chips’ and used for baking. The following year, Ruth sold the legal rights of the Toll House name to Nestle, and the company owned these rights until 1983.

Here is the original recipe for the Nestle Tollhouse Cookie:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
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COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE in preheated 375-degree Fahrenheit oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Source: Nestle Very Best Baking: http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/detail.aspx?ID=18476

Over time, die-hard chocolate chip cookie fans have mastered various versions of this recipe, including the trend of making more chewy, oversized batches. Contests and competitions for cookie bars, more flavorful versions, and interesting add-ons such as colored frosting for holidays make this treat a never-forgotten tradition. Enjoy your cookies year round; as an ice-cream sandwich in the summer, or with milk on a cozy night by the fireplace. Whatever your cookie ‘fantasy’, the history of the original classic will remain an American favorite.

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