It’s time for a delicious reminder that the chocolate chip cookie originated in Massachusetts

While this may sound like old news (it is), those who are learning it for the first time may have a few questions.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Ruth and Kenneth Wakefield opened a thriving restaurant in Whitman in the 1930s. They called it the “Toll House” because it was across from the Boston-Bedford Turnpike toll gates, according to Globe records.

It has been said that the cookie was created accidentally, when Ruth Wakefield ran out of nuts one night while baking a batch of Butter Drop-Do cookies, a classic colonial recipe. Instead, Ruth grabbed a chocolate bar and an ice cream pick, cut the chocolate into pieces, and mixed them into the dough. So. The first chocolate chip cookie was born.

(Carolyn Wyman’s “Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book,” which explores the history of the Toll House cookie, argues that the recipe was not created inadvertently. “It didn’t seem like anything was an accident in it. restaurant, “Wyman said, according to the Globe report. Wakefield reportedly told interviewers in the 1970s that customers loved nut cookies and that she was trying to give them something different.)

Ruth Graves Wakefield, originally from East Walpole.Credit Framingham State University

Wakefield is said to have graduated from the cooking program at Framingham Normal School (now Framingham State University) and was an experienced baker. Toll House was one of the few restaurants that flourished during the Great Depression, according to Globe reports. Wakefield ran “a well-organized restaurant that included a seven-page single-spaced manual for waitresses,” according to a 2013 article. Toll House was known for its seafoam salad ring (with lime gelatin ), lobster dishes and desserts, including Boston cream pies and lemon meringue, according to a New York Times article.

In 1939, Ruth Wakefield published her own cookbook where the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe first appeared. The recipe was reprinted in the Boston Herald-Traveler, according to the Times. That same year, Wakefield sold Nestlé the rights to reproduce its recipe on its packaging, supposedly for just $ 1. She was hired to consult on the recipes of the company, which allegedly provided her with free chocolate for life, according to the Times.

The cookies became extremely popular and reached far beyond New England, according to the Times, when WWII soldiers from Massachusetts shared their care packages from home. Cookies became so popular that in 1983 a federal judge ruled that Nestlé no longer had the exclusive rights to the Toll House brand, according to the Times.

In 1967, the Wakefields sold the restaurant and retired to Duxbury, where Ruth died in 1977. The restaurant burned down in 1984 on New Years Eve, according to reports from The Globe, and a Wendy’s was subsequently built in the ‘site. A plaque between Wendy’s and a Walgreen’s on Route 18 marks the location of the iconic restaurant.

Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate chunks are now everywhere in the pantry. Wakefield’s recipe, which calls for nuts, is still printed on the back of these packages (although it has been updated to reflect the availability of modern ingredients like pre-sifted flour).

The ruins of the Toll House restaurant in Whitman after a devastating fire that broke out on New Years Eve 1984.
The ruins of the Toll House restaurant in Whitman after a devastating fire that broke out on New Years Eve 1984. Barry Allen / Globe Staff

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Makes 100 very small cookies

Resist baking cookies larger than ½ teaspoon. This recipe mimics the original as closely as possible.

Butter (for the baking sheets)

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cut and at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup light brown sugar (lightly put in the measure)

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of hot tap water

14 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into pea-sized pieces

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1. Set the oven to 375 degrees. Butter 2 baking sheets.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt to combine them.

3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars. Continue beating for 3 minutes. Beat 1 of the eggs.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the other egg. Beat half the egg in the batter with the vanilla (save the remaining egg to scramble).

5. In a bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the hot water. Beat the mixture into the batter. Stir in the flour mixture until a few floury streaks remain. Stir in the chocolate and nuts.

6. Drop the dough by ½ teaspoon on the foil, spacing the mounds 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Place pan on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely. Let the molds cool before making other cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Dede Wilson. Adapted from “Ruth Wakefield’s Toll-House Tried and True Recipes”


Brittany Bowker can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @brittbowker.



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