Ruth Graves Wakefield

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Ruth Graves Wakefield
Ruth Graves Wakefield.jpeg
Born(1903-06-17)June 17, 1903
DiedJanuary 10, 1977(1977-01-10) (aged 73)
EducationFramingham State Normal School
Culinary career
Cooking styleAmerican

Ruth Graves Wakefield (June 17, 1903 – January 10, 1977) was an American chef, best known as the inventor of the Toll House Cookie, the first chocolate chip cookie. She was also a college graduate, dietitian, educator, business owner, and author.[1]

Wakefield grew up in Easton, Massachusetts, and graduated from Oliver Ames High School in 1920.[2] Wakefield was educated at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. There, 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.[3] In 1930, she and her husband bought a tourist lodge (the Toll House Inn) in Whitman 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. People from across the region visited the Toll House, including notables such as US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Sr.[4] Her chocolate chip cookies soon became very popular.[5][6] She invented chocolate chip cookies around 1938.[7]

She added chopped up bits from a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar into a cookie.[8] 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."[9]

Wakefield wrote a best selling cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes,[10] that went through 39 printings starting in 1930.[11] The 1938 edition of the cookbook was the first to include the recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, the "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie".[9]

During WWII, US soldiers from Massachusetts who were stationed overseas shared the cookies they received in care packages from back home with soldiers from other parts of the US. Soon, hundreds of soldiers were writing home asking their families to send them some Toll House cookies, and Wakefield was soon inundated with letters from around the world requesting her recipe. Thus began the nationwide craze for the chocolate chip cookie.[12][13]

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.[14] Nestlé began marketing chocolate chips to be used especially for cookies and printing the recipe for the Toll House Cookie on its package.[15]

Wakefield's invention met this need and went on to be the most popular cookie of all time.[citation needed] Chocolate chip cookies are still consumed today and currently exist in a market space of over $18 billion in the US.[16]

Wakefield died on January 10, 1977 following a long illness in Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, Massachusetts.[17]

In 2018 the New York Times published a belated obituary for her.[18]


  1. ^ Randal W. Oulton. "Ruth Wakefield". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  2. ^ "Easton Historical Society hosts open house". Wicked Local Easton. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Ruth Graves Wakefield". 1915-08-30. Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  4. ^ "Toll House Cookies: A Long Secret History". Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  5. ^ "Toll House Cookie History – Invention of Toll House Cookies". Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  6. ^ "Ruth Wakefield: Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor". Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  7. ^ Steave Annear (Sep 27, 2013). "The Chocolate Chip Cookie is Turning 75-Years-Old". Boston Magazine. Retrieved Mar 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and the accidental origin of this American staple". CNN. 20 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b Carolyn Wyman (2013). The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book: Scrumptious Recipes & Fabled History From Toll House to Cookie Cake Pie. Countryman Press. p. 23. Retrieved Mar 21, 2014.
  10. ^ Toll House Tried and True Recipes, 1940. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  11. ^ "Inventor of the Week Archive: Chocolate Chip Cookie". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 2003-04-03. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
  12. ^ Jones, Charlotte Foltz (1991). Mistakes That Worked. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26246-9.
  13. ^ "History of Nestlé Toll House". Archived from the original on 2009-02-23.
  14. ^ Carolyn Wyman (2013). The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book: Scrumptious Recipes & Fabled History From Toll House to Cookie Cake Pie. Countryman Press. p. 28. Retrieved Mar 21, 2014.
  15. ^ "Ruth Wakefield: Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor".
  16. ^ "Cookies & Crackers - United States | Statista Market Forecast". Statista. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  17. ^ Staff report (January 11, 1977). Ruth Wakefield, at 73; created toll house cookie. Boston Globe
  18. ^ Roberts, Sam (21 March 2018). "Overlooked No More: Ruth Wakefield, Who Invented the Chocolate Chip Cookie" – via

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