Toll House Cookies | The Original Chocolate Chip Cookie

Learn how New England innkeeper Ruth Wakefield invented the most popular cookie in America (Toll House Cookies) by adding Nestle chocolate bits to her cookies.

By Aimee Tucker

Oct 13 2021


Toll House Cookies | History of the Original Toll House Cookie Recipe (the first chocolate chip cookies).

Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker
Today it’s the most popular cookie in America, but the original Toll House Cookie, the first chocolate chip cookie, was invented right here in New England by Ruth Wakefield at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, during the 1930s. Made with flour, brown sugar, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and walnuts (the nuts are optional, of course — it may be that only the great “hot or cold” lobster roll debate is more passionately argued than “nuts or no nuts”), Toll House cookies are a simple drop cookie that children, adults, and even Santa Claus can agree on. They were invented, it turns out, as a happy accident. Ruth and her husband had purchased the 1709 toll house in 1930 with plans to turn it into an inn (appropriately named the Toll House Inn) since the location was perfectly situated between Boston and New Bedford. A former dietician and food lecturer with a passion for quality cookery, Ruth was experimenting in the kitchen one day when she decided to take a bar of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate and break it up into bits, which she added to a butter drop cookie batter. When she took them out of the oven, she was surprised to see that the chocolate hadn’t melted, and the firm bits gave the cookies a unique (and addictive) crunch. She liked the texture so much she called them Chocolate Crunch Cookies, and added the recipe to her collection.
vintage tollhouse recipe Toll House Cookies
From Chocolate Crunch Cookies to Classic Toll House Cookies. This is the original Toll House Cookie recipe.
The recipe made its way to a Boston newspaper, and as its popularity grew, so did the sale of Nestle chocolate bars. With Ruth’s permission, Nestle began printing the recipe on the bar’s wrapper, and in 1939, they started selling the chocolate bits on their own in bags, calling them “morsels.” The recipe, nearly identical to the original Toll House Cookie recipe, is still printed on each bag today. I learned this fact when I found a 1945 edition of Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes (originally published in 1936). You can see the recipe in the photo above. Today’s bakers may take special note of how the recipe is written, with just a word or two after each ingredient to signify what to do with it. Quite a change from today’s meticulous recipe instructions! Are you a Toll House cookies fan? Do you prefer the original Toll House cookie recipe or a more modern spin? Let us know! This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated. 

GET THE ORIGINAL TOLL HOUSE COOKIE RECIPE: Ruth Wakefield’s Original Toll House Cookies Recipe

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