Ruth Graves Wakefield
|Ruth Graves Wakefield|
June 17, 1903|
East Walpole, MA
|Died||January 10, 1977
|Education||Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts|
Ruth Graves Wakefield (June 17, 1903 – January 10, 1977) was the inventor of the Toll House Cookie, the first chocolate chip cookie, which she created circa 1938. She was also a graduate and educator, a business owner, a chef, and an author. She made a significant impact on the potential career opportunities for women interested in the culinary arts, entrepreneurship, and invention. She represents the often overlooked women's history of business ownership and professional success.
Early Life and Business
Wakefield was educated at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. Then, she worked as a dietitian and lectured about foods. In 1928, she and her husband Kenneth Donald Wakefield (1897 - 1997) had a son, Kenneth Donald Wakefield Jr. In 1930, she and her husband bought a tourist lodge (the Toll House Inn) in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts in Plymouth County. Located about halfway between Boston and New Bedford, it was a place where passengers had historically paid a toll, changed horses and ate home-cooked meals. When the Wakefields opened their business, they named the establishment the Toll House Inn. Ruth cooked and served all the food and soon gained local fame for her lobster dinners and desserts. The restaurant had many visitors, including Massachusetts' Senator John F. Kennedy. Her chocolate chip cookies soon became very popular. She invented chocolate chip cookies around 1938.
It is often incorrectly reported that the cookie was an accident, and that Wakefield expected the chocolate chunks to melt making chocolate cookies. In reality, Wakefield stated that she deliberately invented the cookie. She said, "We had been serving a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream. Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different. So I came up with Toll House cookie." The significance of this is that of intent, and it speaks to her ambition and skill. She used her education and experience to produce a timeless product.
Wakefield wrote a best selling cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes, that went through 39 printings starting in 1930. The 1938 edition of the cookbook was the first to include the recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, the "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie".
As the popularity of the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie increased, the sales of Nestlé's semi-sweet chocolate bars also spiked. Andrew Nestlé and Ruth Wakefield made a business arrangement: Wakefield gave Nestlé the right to use her cookie recipe and the Toll House name for one dollar and a lifetime supply of Nestlé chocolate. Nestlé began marketing chocolate chips to be used especially for cookies and printing the recipe for the Toll House Cookie on its package.
- "Ruth Wakefield: Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor". Retrieved 2009-07-30.
- Steave Annear (Sep 27, 2013). "The Chocolate Chip Cookie is Turning 75-Years-Old". Boston Magazine. Retrieved Mar 21, 2014.
- Toll House Tried and True Recipes, 1940. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- "Inventor of the Week Archive: Chocolate Chip Cookie". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
- Staff report (January 11, 1977). Ruth Wakefield, at 73; created toll house cookie. Boston Globe