I asked what feature people wanted me to bring back and one that came up was Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.
Ruth Graves Wakefield has earned her place as one of America’s famous women inventors. She might not be the most famous inventor but she created one of the most popular American snacks. The chocolate chip cookie was her invention. The chocolate chip cookie was not her only invention. This little chocolate chip that was created accidentally then created one of America’s largest cookie companies.
It was June 17, 1903 the day Ruth Graves Wakefield was born. It appears as if her childhood was unremarkable and there are no biographies. It is known that Ruth went to school at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. She was a dietitian and lectured about foods. Her husband’s name was Kenneth Wakefield. During her life Ruth lived in an inn named Toll House. In the 1930’s her husband bought a tourist lodge and named it Toll House in Whitman, Massachusetts. Toll House was originally built in 1709. It was named Toll House since historically this is where passengers used to pay their tolls. Ruth cooked all the meals and became famous for her cooking and especially her desserts.
These new cookies were popular with the guests at Toll House and the recipes were even printed in a Boston newspaper. This lead to the sales of semi-sweet chocolate bars increasing and it caught the attention of Andrew Nestle. Once the cookies became famous Ruth and Andrew Nestle (of the Nestle Company) made a deal. Nestle would print her recipe on their cover of all their semi-sweet chocolate bars. In return Ruth would receive a lifetime supply of chocolate. Due to these new partnership sales of the semi-sweet chocolate “went through the roof”. In 1939 Nestle started making semi-sweet chocolate morsels especially for the chocolate chip cookie.
During this time Ruth wrote a book called Toll House Tried and True Recipes in 1940 at the age of 37. This book held most of her original recipe secrets. The book also went through thirty-nine printings. Ruth also enjoyed her success until she retired. Ruth retired in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Ruth and Kenneth then sold the Toll House in 1966 and new owners turned it into a nightclub for a time. However, in 1970 another owner turned it back into an inn and back to its original form. Then on New Year’s Eve 1984 seven years after Ruth’s death Toll House burnt down. Sadly, Toll House burned down in a fire started in the kitchen. It is now a historical landmark. In its place there is a Walgreen’s pharmacy and a Wendy’s restaurant.
Ruth Wakefield later died on January 10, 1977 at the age of 73. There are not many biographies about her early life but the tradition of publishing her recipe on the back of each Nestle Toll House chocolate bar package is still honored today. Ruth Wakefield was a great cook; an inventor and she created one of American’s favorite cookies, the chocolate chip cookie. Ruth was also a dietician, innkeeper and businesswoman who entered into business with Nestle. Even though Ruth died almost 32 years ago her cookie has been “alive” for almost 70 years and will never die.
The chocolate chip cookie is not the first invention you think of when asked about famous inventions. Most people might not even know who Ruth Wakefield is. However, almost everyone has tasted the chocolate chip cookie at one time. Ruth Wakefield and her invention are proof the accidents are not always bad and can taste really good. They are also proof that anything can be an invention and anyone can be an inventor.