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Who Invented Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

The resulting cookies were an immediate success, and became known as Tollhouse cookies. They became so popular, that the Nestlé Chocolate Company purchased the recipe with the rights to print it on its semi-sweet chocolate bars. In exchange, Wakefield received free chocolate for life. At that point, the chocolate chip cookies didn't contain actual chocolate chips, but instead they had chunks of chopped chocolate.

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.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By bennett — On May 06, 2010

Yes, but the original sign is still there to commemorate the original colonial Toll House. And, just for clarification, it's Toll House Inn and Toll House Cookies, not Tollhouse.

She was preparing her well known Chocolate Dough Drop cookies and didn't have any baking chocolate left. The baking chocolate would completely melt and mix with all the other ingredients. Instead, she used chopped up chocolate bars. When the chunks didn't melt completely, she was surprised. But served them anyway because they tasted so good! And, people started coming from far away to get her cookies.

She was featured in newspapers, and then contacted Nestle and worked out the deal.

By anon27553 — On Mar 02, 2009

they were invented in Whitman, Ma. a lot of websites say there were invented *near* Whitman, but it was *in* Whitman. A Wendy's fast food restaurant is now there because the Toll House burned down.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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