As American as applie pie, baseball and... a chocolate chip cookie? Saco Foods Inc states that the chocolate chip cookie is the favorite American cookie with 7 billion consumed every year.1 When the former Midwest Airlines operated out of Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport, a fresh chocolate chip cookie served near the end of flights was a company trademark.

The story of the chocolate cookie began at Massachusett's Toll House Inn. The official version of the near-legendary tale is that Mrs Wakefield had run out of Baker's Chocolate2  and added fragments of Nestle chocolate squares to the batter expecting the chocolate to melt. Instead it resulted in a butter/vanilla dough with solid chocolate pieces that she called Toll House Crunch Cookie.  
Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies
Cream 1 cup butter
Add ¾ cup brown sugar, ¾ cup white sugar, 2 eggs, beaten
Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 teaspoon hot water
Add alternately with 2 ¼ cups flour sifted with 1 teaspoon salt
Add 1 cup chopped nuts, 2 bars Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate broken into pieces
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla

Drop by half teaspoonfuls onto greased cooky sheet. Bake in moderate oven, 375 degrees, for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 100 cookies

At Toll House, we chill overnight. When mixture is ready for baking, we roll a teaspoon of dough between palms of hands and place balls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Then we press balls with finger tips to form flat rounds. This way cookies do not spread as much in the baking and they keep uniformly round. They should be brown through, and crispy, not white and hard as I have sometimes seen them.”
Picture1936 Recipe Book
Looking through the Liberty Edition of Milwaukee's own Settlement Cook Book (below), which predates the Toll House cookbook by decades, you can read several recipes that are quite similar to the chocolate chip cookie or the Chocolate Butter Drop Do Mrs. Wakefield was intending to make. One calls for grated chocolate to be added to the cookie, not the pieces Mrs. Wakefield added, and this change is more important then the type of chocolate used. Grated chocolate could be thoroughly incorporated into the mixture. Another calls for the chocolate squares to be first melted before added. 

Well Used Version of the 1915 Settlement Cook Book with WWI "Liberty Supplement" Section

At the end of the original Toll House Chocolate Crunch recipe is one of the secrets to an excellent cookie. Chill overnight was removed for editorial or busy modern bakers as it does not appear on any subsequent Nestle chocolate chip bags.

Chilling the dough overnight or even for a couple of days dries out and cools the batter. This makes for a thicker, chewy cookie instead of a flat, crisp one.

The story of the cookie has a happy result for all. Mrs. Wakefield received free Nestle's chocolate for the rest of her life and Nestle had the rights to the recipe for their own promotion.3 Ultimately the best cookie is whatever you prefer. 




By Joel Willems,
Curator, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear


09/22/2015 10:48pm

The recipe that you wrote about is a gem! The cookie lover in me is extremely happy to know about the original chocolate chip cookie's secret. The dough has to be chilled overnight! :)

I wonder who among the present day cookie stores follow the process. I also wonder what particular brown hue the Toll House is talking about. I mean, every cookie that I see (and eat!) is brown--some are just darker and some are just brighter. Any illustration?

01/25/2016 3:10am

Very nice cookie story))

Comments are closed.