Historical Recipe Project: The Original Chocolate Chip Cookie

As part of our historical recipe project, our Project Manager in the Planning Division Caitlin Lacy brought in the Original Chocolate Chip Cookie!


Chocolate chip cookies are my go-to recipe to bake. I have been baking the same recipe since I was 14. When we were approached with this historical recipe project I wondered, when was the first chocolate chip cookie baked?

The chocolate chip has been around for almost 80 years and was developed by Ruth Graves Wakefield, who ran the Toll House restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts. Historically this was a place where passengers had paid a toll, changed horses and ate home-cooked meals. The recipe has been tweaked over the years, but still closely resembles its original version. It first appeared in print in the 1938 edition of Wakefield’s “Tried and True Recipes” cookbook. A year later Nestlé was given the right to use Wakefield’s cookie recipe and the Toll House name.

There are many myths about how the cookie got its start, such as the vibrations from an industrial mixer caused chocolate stored on a shelf above to fall into a vat of cookie dough as it was being mixed.

Another version is that she didn’t have any nuts, so she chopped up some chocolate. Or that Wakefield expected the chocolate chunks to melt making chocolate cookies. In the “Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book,” the food writer Carolyn Wyman offers a more believable, tale. Wakefield, who had a degree in household arts from Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts and a reputation for perfectionism, would not have allowed her restaurant to run out of such essential ingredients as bakers’ chocolate or nuts. Rather, Wakefield 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.”

The only real difference in the Toll House recipe from modern recipes was to dissolve 1 tsp baking soda in 1 tsp hot water. A quick google search tells me this is a way to start to activate the baking soda. Besides this one step, the recipe is like any other chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I was very pleased with how the cookies turned out. The cookies were light and puffy with the perfect golden brown edges and chewy centre. After the office tasting I did not have any leftovers to cart home. My 4 year old taste tester also proclaimed they were the best cookie he had ever had, and he knows cookies! I’d say the cookies were a hit and this recipe may replace the recipe that I have been using since I was 14 years old.

Written by Caitlin Lacy 

Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies – Original Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

From Tried and True Recipes, page 216


1 cup butter


3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 (large) eggs beaten, whole


1 tsp soda in
1 tsp hot water

Mix alternately with:

2 1/4 cups flour sifted with
1 tsp salt

Lastly add:

1 cup chopped nuts

2 bars Nestlé’s yellow label chocolate, semi-sweet, which has been cut in pieces the size of a pea. (Later changed to “2 packages of chocolate morsels,” which is the equivalent of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips.)

Flavor with:

1 tsp. vanilla

Drop half teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in 375F oven.

Makes 100 cookies.