Top Pick Of The Week

May 30, 2006

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
A Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie flanked by two classic Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies. All photos by Melody Lan.
WHAT IT IS: Jumbo gourmet cookies from Levain Bakery in New York City.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Incredible flavors in cookies the size of scones: Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip and Oatmeal Raisin.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Rich, buttery, chewy cookies you can sink your teeth into: layers of flavor and cakey texture but never so rich as to overkill.

Levain Bakery:
Chip Off A New Block


Page 3: History Of The Chocolate Chip Cookie

This is Page 3 of a three-page review. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.



The History of the Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate chip cookie-lovers: Where would we be if it weren’t for Ruth Graves Wakefield (1903-1977), a 1930s-era Massachusetts innkeeper? Without Ruth there would be no chocolate chip cookies and by extension, no peanut butter chip cookies or other flavors of chips, no chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, no Chipwich. But why dwell on those what-if horrors? Let’s look at the happy history.

Ruth Graves graduated from the Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. She worked as a dietitian and lectured on food.

In 1930, Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield purchased a historic Cape Cod-style inn, the Toll House, on the outskirts of Whitman, Massachusetts, halfway between Boston and New Bedford. Originally constructed in 1709, the house had served as a stop for travelers in Colonial times: they paid their road toll, changed horses and dined. Over 200 years later, the Wakefields opened a lodge on the premises, the Toll House Inn. They served traditional Colonial fare. Ruth did the baking, and her desserts were very popular.

One day in 1937, while preparing a batch of Butter Drop Do cookies, a colonial recipe, Ruth found that she did not have the baker’s chocolate required, and instead chopped a bar of Nestlé Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny pieces. She added them to the dough, expecting them to melt during baking; instead, the chocolate held its shape and softened to a creamy texture. The new cookies became very popular at the Inn; Ruth’s recipe was published in newspapers throughout New England, and sales of Nestlé’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar skyrocketed.

Ruth eventually approached Nestlé and reached an agreement that allowed Nestlé to print what would become known as the Toll House Cookie recipe on the wrapper of the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar (part of the agreement included supplying Ruth with all of the chocolate she could use for the rest of her life). As the recipe continued to grow in popularity, Nestlé began to score the chocolate bar and packaged it with a special chopper for easy cutting into small morsels. In 1939, they introduced Nestlé Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels. Nestlé claims that the Toll House is the most popular cookie of all time. Who are we to disagree?

Officially, chocolate chip cookies are the state cookie of Massachusetts, where they were invented, and Pennsylvania, home to Hershey’s, Nestlé’s chief competitor in the chocolate morsel business. Alas, you can’t visit the Toll House Inn today. In 1966, Kenneth and Ruth sold it and retired to Duxbury, Massachusetts. The new owners turned the building into a nightclub. In 1970, it was sold again, to the Saccone family, who restored the original Toll House Inn and Restaurant. Unfortunately, on New Year's Eve 1984, the old building caught fire and was destroyed.

You don’t need a special reason to order Levain cookies, but they are perfect for special occasions, gifts, cheering up anyone who needs cheering, or simply celebrating the fact that, in a world of so much that is just O.K., you have access to that which is exceptional.

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who likes great cookies and large portions; and to people who are looking to curry favor by sending someone a memorable gift.


Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip and Oatmeal Raisin

  • Any Four Cookies
    (Almost 2 Pounds)
    $35.00 Including FedEx 2Day Shipping
  • Eight Cookies
    (Over 3 Pounds)
    $60.00 Including FedEx 2Day Shipping
  • Twelve Cookies
    (Over 5 Pounds)
    $85.00 Including FedEx 2Day Shipping
  • Call about larger orders

Purchase online at
or telephone 1.877.4Levain,
weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Eastern Time.

Go To Article Index Above


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Read about some of our other
favorite sweets:

Bake Your Own Beauties

Baking With Julia Old Fashioned Cookies the good cookie
Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers, by Dorie Greenspan. Based on Julia Child’s TV shows, this is a great baking reference source for all bakers. There are many recipes, including ones for rugelach, and techniques from a number of acclaimed bakers. Click here to purchase. Old-Fashioned Cookies, by Debbie Mumm. You’ll find all the best-loved baked goods in this beautiful volume: Vintage Favorites, Teatime Treasures, Old-World Traditions, and more. From Cocoa Snickerdoodles and Cinnamon Stars to Chewy Butterscotch Brownies, we’re hungry just writing about it. Click here to purchase. The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes from Simple to Sublime, by Tish Boyle. Over 250 cookie recipes scaled to different difficulty levels. What makes this book different from the hundreds out there is that Boyle uses her experience as a pastry chef to update, improve, and choose between all those thousands of recipes for classic and best-loved cookies. Click here to purchase.


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