Ruth Graves Wakefield is an American chef and the inventor of the classic favorite chocolate chip cookies which was initially called the Toll House Crunch Cookie. Wakefield was also a dietician, author, educator, and business owner. The recipe for the Toll House Cookie was imprinted at the back of the packaging of Nestle products since the year 1939.
Five Facts about Ruth Graves Wakefield
She invented the classic favorite chocolate chip cookie
Her original recipe included chunks of semi-sweet chocolates from Nestle
In return for her recipe, Nestle gave her a lifetime supply of chocolates for her baking needs
She is one of the most well-known female inventors for the worldwide favorite cookie dessert
The original name of Chocolate Chip Cookies was "Toll House Crunch Cookies"
Personal Life and Career
In 1903, Ruth Graves Wakefield was born in the quaint town of East Walpole, Massachusetts. However, her family moved to Easton, Massachusetts, and that is where she grew up. Her parents were Helen Vest Jones and Fred Graves.
In 1924, she was a dietician and a food lecturer in the school where she graduated from. The school is now called the Framingham State College. She was then married to Kenneth Donald Wakefield in 1928 and had a son named Kenneth Donald Wakefield Jr.
After that, she became a home economics teacher until 1930. She and her husband bought a 200-year-old tourist lodge from their life savings and named it the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Plymouth County. It was located between New Bedford and Boston, and a lot of travelers would pass by this particular road, giving them enough customers to keep their business up.
During this period, travelers would pay a toll fee, change horses, and eat Wakefield cookies in the inn. Wakefield was a profound chef and served sumptuous meals for their customers without fail, which made most of them a patron. Soon enough, it didn't take long before the Toll House Inn became a hit locally.
The Toll House Inn was known for Wakefield's lobster meals and cookie desserts, and people all over the region frequently made visits to their place to satisfy both cravings and hunger. This includes notable people such as Joseph Kennedy Sr., the US Ambassador at the time.
Inventing the Toll House Cookie
Some had said that Wakefield's chocolate chip cookie invention was an accident. It happened when she ran out of chocolate for her 'Butter Drop Dro Cookies'. She was left with no choice but to use an alternative and cut Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate into small chunks. She then added it to the dough, hoping that it would melt but turned out otherwise.
However, in reality, Wakefield intentionally created the recipe to give her patrons something new and exciting to look forward to other than their butterscotch nut cookies. This experiment led to the creation of the Toll House Cookie, which is now popularly called the 'chocolate chip cookie' that gained fame so quickly that it was featured in newspapers.
Wakefield frequently received calls for interviews on the radio. She even included the recipe later on in her cookbook which was already famous at that time.
Her recipe spread like wildfire across the nation during WWII, and it didn't take long enough before she started receiving piles of letters from all over the world requesting a copy of her recipe. The Toll House Cookie was one of the biggest dessert crazes during that period.
On the other hand, the popularity of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate bar skyrocketed because of Wakefield's invention, and Andrew Nestle asked Wakefield to form an agreement with him and give him the right to print out the Toll House Cookie recipe at the back of the product's packaging in exchange for an unlimited supply of semi-sweet chocolates for Wakefield's baking needs, to which Wakefield agreed.
Nestle then came up with gimmicks to hype up the chocolate, such as including a special chopper for easier chocolate chopping. In 1939, Nestle decided to go a step farther and released the Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, which almost instantly became a hit.
Ruth Wakefield didn't stop there and continued to live her life as a renowned baker throughout her age. She wrote a series of cookbooks, which included the "Ruth Wakefield's Recipes: Tried and True".
Legacy and Death
Chocolate chip cookies never went out of trend and eventually became a classic, with a market space of over $18 billion in the US. It’s even considered the most popular cookie variety in the nation. With nearly 93% of American households serving cookies for desserts, the now known as "chocolate chip cookies" became America's go-to cookie.
Wakefield eventually retired and sold the Toll House Inn in 1966 which was then destroyed by a fire in 1984. She passed on January 10, 1977, leaving behind a legacy that runs up to this day.
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