Celebrate with a chocolate chip cookie

Our guest author today is Constance Carter, head of the science reference section, mentor, and cookie goddess.  

Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes (New York, M. Barrows & Co., 1938. 214 p.)

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.) 

Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes (New York, M. Barrows & Co., 1938. 214 p.),

Happy Birthday, Ruth!  Yum!!


  1. clk
    June 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Well! I had a chocolate chip cookie today and didn’t know it was her birthday til now!
    Thanks for sharing the story of the cookie’s creation–one of my favorites. Another favorite–old books!

  2. dg
    May 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I am looking for a photo of Ruth Wakefield for a book and wondering if you could give me any additional info on the source for this photo? I cannot find under loc p&p catalog. THANK YOU!

  3. Jennifer Harbster
    May 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    The photo was scanned from Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes (New York, M. Barrows & Co., 1938). This photo/work might still be protected by copyright- If you would like to publish this image I recommend investigating the status of the photo/work – see the Copyright Office’s How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work. I hope this is helpful.

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