Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies & A Winner

Happy Day-light Savings Day!
If only I could be as sure about the fact that March 13th kicks off National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week this year as I am about Mrs. Wakefield and the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. The way I figure it, what difference does it make. As far as I'm concerned, there's always room for one more chocolate chip cookie post, right?

...In 1930, dietician Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth, purchased a Cape-Cod style house halfway between Boston and New Bedford, Massachusetts, just outside the town of Whitman. The house, built in 1709, had once been a "truck stop" of sorts, where travelers could rest, change horses, have a nice meal, and pay any necessary tolls for using the road. Ruth and Kenneth soon turned their new home into a lodge, "The Toll House Inn..."(History of Chocolate Chip Cookies)
So you think inventing the chocolate chip cookie was child's play do ya? Well, take a look at this Nestlé Chocolate Wrapper from the 1940s and then let me know what you think. (you can click it to make it larger)

Did you notice that the recipe calls for 2 economy size bars (7 oz) of Nestlé's Semi-Sweet Chocolate which has been "cut in pieces the size of a pea." Look, the wrapper even gives directions for cutting the bar up. It's Easy it says!
You see, when Ruth Wakefield was "playing" around in her restaurant with her favorite Butter Drop-Do Cookie recipe, those tiny bits of morsels that we have all grown so accustomed to, hadn't seen the light of day yet. Nestlé didn't start producing them until around 1939. Their first solution was to include a "special chopper" to make it easier to turn the pre-scored bars into bits.
    A Quick Timeline
  • 1866-Company founded by Henri Nestlé in Vevey, Switzerland
  • 1867-Pharmacist Henri Nestle develops the world's first infant food in Vevey, Switzerland. It's called Farine Lactee Nestle.
  • 1900-Nestlé opens their first U.S. plant In Fulton New York
  • 1929-Peter, Cailler, Kohler, the chocolate company founded in 1875 by Daniel Peter, who by the way, produced the world's first milk chocolate by mixing Nestlé's condensed milk with cocoa powder, merges with Nestlé.
    which I suppose explains the name on the reverse side of the wrapper.
  • 1938-Nestlé introduced the Crunch Bar. A candy bar made of milk chocolate with crisped rice mixed in. During World War II Nestlé Crunch Bars became a regular part of the American servicemen's provisions.
  • 1939-Nestlé begins selling tiny pieces of chocolate called "morsels" in a ready-to-use package complete with Ruth Wakefield's Original Toll House Cookie Recipe.
As the old proverb goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention" and in Ruth Graves Wakefield's day, that meant using a bar, or two, of semi-sweet chocolate that she just happened to have on hand. As stories go, and when it comes to Toll House Cookie Stories, they are numerous, whatever happened on that sweet day, the infamous chocolate chip cookie was "born."

Unless there's DNA available on the first chocolate chip cookie, I suppose we will never know the true origin of the first chocolate chip cookie recipe. Some say it was a "hyped" up version of a Butter Drop-do recipe included in Amelia Simmons' "American Cookery," first published in 1796, while others say it is a simple sugar cookie recipe with semi-sweet chocolate and nuts. All I know for sure is, there are many, many variations.

If I remember correctly, the recipe for Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies in Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes, published in 1949, is almost the same as the recipe you see on the wrapper above. The only difference is in the physical shape of the chocolate; bars or morsels. I'm pretty sure about this because I seem to remember comparing them side by side when I still had my treasured copy of her book. (don't ask, tears may flow)

For certain we can compare these two recipes and see how they match up. One is from the Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places Vol. 2 first published in 1950 (1954 ed.) and the other from our wrapper.

Here's another recipe to have some fun with! It comes from Kids Cooking; A Very Slightly Messy Manuel published by the editors of Klutz Press and charmingly illustrated by Jim M'Guinness. Have FUN!!!

On July 9, 1997, Massachusetts designated the chocolate chip cookie the Official State Cookie after it was suggested by a third grade class from Somerset, Massachusetts.

FYI: Tomorrow is National Potato Chip Day!

Congratulations to Pam! Send me your info Pam and I'll get your "new" book off in the mail, ASAP. acalenda [at] gmail.com. For those of you who didn't win this time, don't fret. I'll be having another cookbook give-away real soon, "good Lord willing and the creek don't freeze," literally:)