Without the culinary ingenuity of one woman, we may never have known the delicious delight that is the chocolate chip cookie. What a sad world that would have been! Luckily, Ruth Wakefield had our collective backs: One day, when she was running low on chocolate, she decided to improvise rather than interrupt her baking by running to the store. Voila, a marvelous new cookie concept was born.
Wakefield had planned on whipping up some of her specialty "butter drop do" cookies (a recipe that's been around since Colonial times) for the guests at the Toll House Inn, which she ran with her husband. The cookies called for unsweetened baker's chocolate, but the only chocolate Wakefield had handy was a bar of semisweet. So she simply broke it into chunks and mixed it into the cookie dough, assuming the chocolate would melt evenly throughout the cookies. When the oven timer dinged, however, she found a very different result: The bits of chocolate remained suspended in the cookies. Also, the resulting cookies were delicious!
The new-fangled Toll House cookie recipe was a sensation, and it quickly started gathering a fan base. Wakefield struck up a deal with Nestlé to promote it, and the recipe helped boost the company's sales considerably. As a reward for her promotional efforts, Wakefield got a lifetime supply of chocolate. With this chocolate, she continued to bake chocolate chip cookies for her guests at the Whitman, Mass., inn kitchen following the recipe of her 1937 gastronomical epiphany.
While Wakefield and her husband eventually sold the joint in 1966, her original chocolate chip cookie recipe still runs on Nestlé packages today. On the next page, find out lots more about baking and other bits of chocolaty goodness.