I love watching keep-fit videos while munching chocolate chip cookies.
~ Dolly Parton
In an episode of the sitcom Friends, Lisa Kudrow's character Phoebe claims that her great-great-grandmother ("Nestley Toulouse") passed down the cookie recipe on the back of the chocolate-chip bag. As it happens, a woman did single-handedly invent chocolate-chip cookies, but she wasn't from France—she was from Massachusetts. According to a popular version of this story, sometime in the 1930s, Ruth Graves Wakefield was baking chocolate cookies at the restaurant she ran in Whitman, Massachusetts, when, without enough time to melt the chocolate, Wakefield threw in whole chunks of a Nestlé bar. People loved the improvisation, and the rest is history. But that's not quite what happened, according to food historian Caroline Wyman.
Wakefield wasn't a distracted proprietress; she was a talented and well-educated home economist, as well as an accomplished chef. In fact, Wakefield was something closer to the Martha Stewart of her day, and an early product of the American public-education system; she graduated from the Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924, two years after the nation's second teachers college started issuing bachelor's degrees in education. By the time she invented the chocolate chip cookie, Wakefield already had a cookbook to go with the restaurant: Her Toll House Tried and True Recipes went through dozens of printings. (According to the Boston Globe, the restaurant had never been a tollhouse—that was just good branding.)
The cookies became a local delicacy, and, after Massachusetts soldiers received them in care packages from home during World War II, the adoration went national, according to Wyman. The cookies became so famous that Nestlé started selling bags of chips—and offered Wakefield a lifetime of chocolate (and $1) for a license on the Toll House name and her recipe. (Source: M. Harris, Pacific Standard)
Read all about the history of chocolate, Ruth Wakefield, the original recipe + so much more in the current issue of The Allure of Chocolate. Available now to download just click the image below.