For more than 35 years, the popular Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, attracted prominent visitors, including actors (Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson), athletes (Rocky Marciano, Joe DiMaggio), singers (Ethel Merman), composers (Cole Porter), and politicians (Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK). But the inn’s famous legacy is tied to a single day in the mid-1930s, when diners there […]
By Joe Bills
Dec 08 2014
For more than 35 years, the popular Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, attracted prominent visitors, including actors (Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson), athletes (Rocky Marciano, Joe DiMaggio), singers (Ethel Merman), composers (Cole Porter), and politicians (Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK). But the inn’s famous legacy is tied to a single day in the mid-1930s, when diners there were the first to experience the signature smell of chocolate-chip cookies in the oven.
Most popular versions of the cookie’s genesis story claim that it occurred accidentally, when proprietor Ruth Wakefield ran out of Baker’s chocolate and substituted chunks of a Nestle’s chocolate bar (some say it was a gift from Andrew Nestle himself), thinking it would melt. One version, perpetuated by a former Toll House Inn chef, posits that vibrations from a mixer caused chocolate to fall into a batch of dough.
Wakefield wrote a cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes, in 1930. The 1938 edition of the cookbook included the first-ever printing of a chocolate-chip cookie recipe, the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie.”
In March 1939, Wakefield sold Nestle the exclusive right to use her recipe and the Toll House name, reportedly for $1 and a lifetime supply of chocolate. Wakefield sometimes claimed never to have received the dollar.
When Nestle first printed the Toll House cookie recipe on the wrapper of its Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar, it sold with a special chopper for easy “chipping.” As the cookies’ popularity soared, Nestle expanded its product line to include ready-to-use packages of Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, specifically for cookies.
Nestle won’t share production figures, but at its Wisconsin facility, morsels are manufactured at a rate of 18,000,000 per hour. That translates to about half a billion chocolate chips in 24 hours.
The site of the original Toll House Inn is now home to a Wendy’s restaurant. Inside is a small museum honoring Wakefield and the Toll House Inn.
Whitman, Massachusetts, celebrated the 75th anniversary of the iconic snack’s birth in 2013, ringing in 2014 on New Year’s Eve with the lowering of a giant chocolate-chip cookie from a crane.
Massachusetts designated the chocolate-chip as the official state cookie on July 9, 1997, acting on a suggestion from a third-grade class in Somerset.
About half of all home-baked cookies are chocolate-chip. An estimated 7 billion chocolate-chip cookies are eaten in the U.S. each year. Americans are the world leaders in chocolate-chip cookie consumption. The average American will eat 35,000 cookies in a lifetime.
On May 17, 2003, the record for the largest chocolate-chip cookie was set in Flat Rock, North Carolina. The champion snack measured 102 feet in diameter and weighed 40,000 pounds. The recipe included 30,000 eggs.
In 1984, a customer suggestion prompted Ben & Jerry’s to introduce Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream at their Burlington, Vermont, scoop shop. Just seven years later it was their best-selling flavor and made its supermarket debut.