Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ruth (Graves) Wakefield was born in 1903 in Massachusetts. She graduated from college with a degree in Household Arts. She worked as a home economics teacher and dietician in a hospital. She and her husband had two children.

Ruth and her husband bought a tourist lodge called the Toll House Inn. The name came from the fact that the lodge was once a place where travelers would pay a toll and swap out horses. They were also served a meal.

Ruth, with her background, took over the cooking duties. It didn’t take long for the Toll House Inn to become a favorite place to eat. After a trip to Egypt, Ruth began to experiment with different types of cookies.

She decided to place chips of chocolate candy in a cookie mixture. The cookies became an instant success and were known as Toll House Cookies. Today, we call them chocolate cookies.

During World War II, soldiers treasured the cookies that were sent to them in care packages. Soldiers who had never tasted the cookies before began requesting that their families send them cookies. Ruth was swamped with requests for her recipe. This led Ruth to write a cookbook called Toll House Tried and True Recipes.

Ruth and Nestle entered into a business association. Nestle began to sell chocolate chips especially for cookies. What began as a cookie experiment is now a market in the billions of dollars.

Most food products follow a similar beginning. A cook experiments with a recipe and tries it out locally. The food innovation then goes viral through a number of means. In Ruth’s case it was soldiers. Today, it is more likely to be social media.

A recipe was the first patent. Few (if any) recipes are patented today. But recipes do offer a taste of what it takes to create a beginning (pun intended).

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“In the cookies of life, friends are the chocolate chip.” – Salman Rushdie (Novelist)

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