This is one small corner of food history where everybody tells pretty much the same story (which is actually quite refreshing). It goes like this: the chocolate chip cookie was invented by Ruth Wakefield, who, along with her husband, owned an historic establishment called the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusettes. A studied cook and dietician, Wakefield was regionally known for her cooking, especially her desserts.
As the story goes, on one particular day around 1935, Wakefield set out to make a batch of one of her favorite cookies, the “Butter Drop Do”. This recipe, according to sources, dated back to Colonial times and called for cut up chunks of baker’s chocolate (impossible of course, American colonists had no access to bar chocolate, which wasn’t invented until 1847…but I digress). Finding none in her pantry, Wakefield substituted pieces of semisweet chocolate which, to her surprise, did not melt into the batter as expected. She served them anyway, dubbing them “Toll House Crunch Cookies”.
The cookies were a hit to say the least. So much so that Betty Crocker (yes, there was a real person by that name) featured the recipe on one of her radio programs on regional baking. Shortly thereafter, Wakefield approached the Nestlé company about using her cookie to promote their brand of semisweet chips. They shortly reached an agreement: Nestlé would publish the Toll House cookie recipe on the back of their semisweet bar packaging, and in return Wakefield would receive a lifetime supply of semisweet bars.
Wakefield died in 1977, presumably of chocolate poisoning.