Famous Women Inventors

Ruth Wakefield

Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor

Ruth Wakefield

Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite treat for people of all ages, but without the famous woman inventor Ruth Wakefield, the world might never have tasted those sweet delights. Born in 1905, Wakefield grew up to be a dietician and food lecturer after graduating from the Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. Along with her husband Kenneth, she bought a tourist lodge named the Toll House Inn, where she prepared the recipes for meals that were served to guests.

In 1930, Wakefield was mixing a batch of cookies for her roadside inn guests when she discovered that she was out of baker's chocolate. She substituted broken pieces of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate, expecting it to melt and absorb into the dough to create chocolate cookies. That didn't happen, but the surprising result helped to make Ruth Wakefield one of the 20th century's most famous women inventors. When she removed the pan from the oven, Wakefield realized that she had accidentally invented "chocolate chip cookies."

At the time, she called her creations "Toll House Crunch Cookies." They became extremely popular locally, and the recipe was soon published in a Boston newspaper. As the popularity of the Toll House Crunch Cookie increased, the sales of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate bars also spiked. Andrew Nestle and Ruth Wakefield decided to come up with an agreement. Nestle would print the Toll House Cookie recipe on its package, and Wakefield would be given a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate. Due to this unexpected discovery by a famous woman inventor, the chocolate chip cookie became the most popular variety of cookie in America, a distinction it still holds to this day.

For more information on chocolate chip cookie inventor Ruth Wakefield, refer to:

Lemelson-MIT Inventor of the Week: Ruth Wakefield
History of Cookies

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