Tuesday, March 6, 2012

inquiring minds want to know: chocolate chip cookie edition

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Sitting in the munch room at work one day, I was finishing my zuccinni mozzerella medley contemplating the profound and mundane.  I felt my thought wander from one topic to the next as I pulled out a bag of two chocolate chip cookies.  Sinking my teeth into one, I suddenly wondered, "who was the beautiful mastermind behind the invention of chocolate chip cookies?  I felt sure s/he had to be a visionary. Chocolate chip cookies have proved a key ingredient in an after-school snack for children everywhere, formidable in the face of a glass of milk, shaped perfectly for dunking.  Heck, they even have a T.V. character whose life revolves around eating them (or did until recently when he decided cookies were a sometimes food).  The inventor of the chocolate chip cookie knew what s/he was doing.  I had to find out more about the first chocolate chip cookie concocter.

Ruth Wakefield
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Ruth Wakefield, a dietician, food lecturer, famous inventor, lodge operator and wonder woman bought the Toll House Inn with her husband and part of her duties included creating recipes and preparing meals for guests.  As the story goes, Ruth was baking cookies and midway through realized she had run out of baker's chocolate (I can SO relate, Ruth).  Forced to improvise, she substituted  chunks of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate for the baker's chocolate, hoping that the chunks would melt into the dough.  When Ruth removed the cookies from the oven, she was surprised to see that the chunks did not melt, but was pleased with the results.

Ruth named her happy accident "Toll House Crunch Cookies."  News of her new cookie invention spread quickly and her "Crunch Cookies" became a huge success around town.  The recipe ran in a Boston newspaper, popularity increased and Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate sales rose.  Eventually, Nestle approached Ruth with a proposition: in exchange for a lifetime supply of Nestle's chocolate, Ruth would permit Nestle to print her recipe on the back of their chocolate packages.  Nestle also bought the rights to the Toll House name, and at Ruth's suggestion, score their chocolate bars so that they would be easier to break into small pieces.  Soon they began to sell chocolate chips and chunks, making it even easier for the chocolate chip cookie maker.  And to think that all of this came from want of baker's chocolate and a little ingenuity.

*the factual information for this post obtained here and here.

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