Today is the birthday of Ruth Graves Wakefield, “mother of the chocolate chip cookie.” She was born on June 17, 1903, and Inside Adams is celebrating by unveiling the division’s latest acquisition, the 1938 edition of Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes (New York, M. Barrows & Co., 1938. 214 p.), the introduction of which is signed by Ruth herself. The cookie first appeared on p. 165 in this edition.
My mother went to Framingham Normal School with Ruth and later visited her at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, MA, which she ran with her husband. Mother learned the story of the cookie’s birth and told it to me when I started baking chocolate chip cookies. In the early 1930’s, Ruth was making her Butter Drop Do cookies when she went to the cupboard for cocoa—a key ingredient–only to find there was none. What to do? The guests expected cookies for tea! Ruth spied two Nestles yellow label semi-sweet chocolate bars in the cupboard and decided to chop them up into pea-sized pieces—thinking they would melt and she’d have her chocolate cookies. But, much to her surprise, the pieces did not melt, and the chocolate crunch cookie, as it was called then, was born.
The Toll House guests loved the cookies and word spread far and wide. When the Nestles Company found why its bars were flying off the shelf, they offered to print the Toll House Cookie recipe on the bars in return for giving Ruth a life-time supply. In 1939, Nestles created the morsels to save us from chopping up the bars.
The Library’s collections are filled with cookie books of every sort. I suggest you start out with Dede Wilson’s A Baker’s Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies (Boston, The Harvard Common Press, c2004. 176 p.)
Happy Birthday, Ruth! Yum!!