Ruth Graves Wakefield

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Ruth Graves Wakefield
Ruth Graves Wakefield.jpeg
Ruth Jones Graves Wakefield

(1903-06-17)June 17, 1903
DiedJanuary 10, 1977(1977-01-10) (aged 73)
EducationFramingham State Normal School
Kenneth Donald Wakefield
(m. 1926)
Culinary career
Cooking styleAmerican
Previous restaurant(s)

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

Personal life[edit]

Ruth Wakefield was born "Ruth Jones Graves", daughter of Fred Graves and the former Helen Vest Jones (Helen Graves), in East Walpole, Massachusetts on June 17, 1903.[2] Wakefield grew up in Easton, Massachusetts, and graduated from Oliver Ames High School in 1920.[3] Wakefield was educated at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. Wakefield worked at Brockton High School as a home economics teacher and also worked as a hospital dietician and service director for a utility company.[4] In 1928, she and her husband Kenneth Donald Wakefield (1897–1997) had a son, Kenneth Donald Wakefield Jr.[5] In 1942, they had a daughter, Mary Jane Wakefield.[6]

Toll House Inn[edit]

In 1930, she and her husband bought a tourist lodge (the Toll House Inn) in Whitman in Plymouth County. When the Wakefields opened their business, they named the establishment the Toll House Inn. Ruth cooked and served all the foods 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.[7] Her chocolate chip cookies soon became very popular.[8][9] She invented chocolate chip cookies around 1938.[10]

Chocolate chip cookie[edit]

It is said that Wakefield was inspired by a trip to Egypt when she started to experiment with cookie recipes. Her assistant Sue Brides was experimenting with pecan drop cookies.[11] Wakefield found the conventional cookie recipe of half white sugar to half brown sugar to be inspired but she still attempted to improve on the recipe.

Ruth Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie. She added chopped up bits from a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar into a cookie.[12] 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."[13]

Wakefield wrote a best selling cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes,[14] that went through 39 printings.[15] The 1938 edition of the cookbook was the first to include the recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, the "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie".[13]

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 after, 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.[16][17]

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.[18] Nestlé began marketing chocolate chips to be used especially for cookies and printing the recipe for the Toll House Cookie on its package.[19]

Chocolate chip cookies are still consumed today and currently exist in a market space of over $18 billion in the US.[20]


Wakefield died on January 10, 1977, following a long illness in Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, Massachusetts.[21]


  1. ^ Randal W. Oulton. "Ruth Wakefield". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  2. ^ Sam Roberts (22 March 2018), "Ruth Wakefield, Who Invented the Chocolate Chip Cookie", New York Times
  3. ^ "Easton Historical Society hosts open house". Wicked Local Easton. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  4. ^ Roberts, Sam (22 March 2018). "Overlooked No More: Ruth Wakefield, Who Invented the Chocolate Chip Cookie". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Ruth Graves Wakefield". 1915-08-30. Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  6. ^ "Obituary of Mary Jane Wakefield | Shepherd Funeral & Cremation Service - Kingston".
  7. ^ "Toll House Cookies: A Long Secret History". Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  8. ^ "Toll House Cookie History – Invention of Toll House Cookies". Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  9. ^ "Ruth Wakefield: Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor". Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  10. ^ Steave Annear (Sep 27, 2013). "The Chocolate Chip Cookie is Turning 75-Years-Old". Boston Magazine. Retrieved Mar 21, 2014.
  11. ^ Kelly, Kate (20 November 2013). "Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor: Ruth Wakefield (1903-1977)". America Comes Alive!. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and the accidental origin of this American staple". CNN. 20 October 2017.
  13. ^ 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. ISBN 9781581571622. Retrieved Mar 21, 2014.
  14. ^ Toll House Tried and True Recipes, 1940. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  15. ^ "Inventor of the Week Archive: Chocolate Chip Cookie". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 2003-04-03. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
  16. ^ Jones, Charlotte Foltz (1991). Mistakes That Worked. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26246-9.
  17. ^ "History of Nestlé Toll House". Archived from the original on 2009-02-23.
  18. ^ 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. ISBN 9781581571622. Retrieved Mar 21, 2014.
  19. ^ "Ruth Wakefield: Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor".
  20. ^ "Cookies & Crackers – United States". Statista Market Forecast. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  21. ^ Staff report (January 11, 1977). Ruth Wakefield, at 73; created toll house cookie. Boston Globe

External links[edit]