Ruth Wakefield is often credited with the invention of chocolate chip cookies. With her husband, she ran the Tollhouse Inn in Massachusetts. The common story goes that Wakefield, who often made food for her guests, decided to make a chocolate butter cookie but didn’t have enough chocolate bars to produce one. Instead, she chopped up the bars and added them to the butter cookie recipe.
Nestlé had some popularity with the Wakefield’s chocolate chip cookies, but the recipe became far easier to follow when, in 1939, the company developed the standard chocolate chip, called a chocolate morsel. This easier way of combining the chocolate made the cookies the most popular in the US.
Today, many companies make chocolate chips, and many cooks favor one type of chips over another. Some cookies are considered substandard if they use a chip made with artificial vanilla, called vanillin, for example. Others people are quite happy with this flavoring.
The original recipe for chocolate chip cookies is still printed on Nestles' bags. Most other chocolate chips have some form of the recipe on them, though they have to make slight changes so as not to infringe on Nestlé's copyright privileges. This can be easily accomplished, however, and most recipes are roughly identical.
Wakefield’s chocolate chip cookies were made with butter, and always included walnuts. Many recipes now call for margarine, and may not include nuts. In fact, in 1992, Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton had a bake-off in Family Circle magazine to see who made the best chocolate chip cookies. Clinton’s used margarine, and Bush stuck to butter.
Both varieties were praised but were distinctly different. Bush’s cookies were favored in some taste groups, but Clinton’s were more popular at restaurants. The fate of the election clearly didn’t hang on cookie popularity, however, since Clinton’s husband won the election.
Variants in today’s chips can produce many different cookies, and white chocolate or peanut butter chips are popular. Some people also add candy-coated chocolate instead of, or in addition to, morsels. Chocolate chips can be larger or smaller than the standard size and may be semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or bittersweet.