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Ruth Wakefeld
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Chef
    (June 17, 1903-January 10, 1977)
    Born in East Walpole, Massachusetts
    Birth name was Ruth Graves
    With husband Kenneth Wakefield owned the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts
    Wrote the cookbook 'Toll House Tried and True Recipes' (1930)
    Invented the chocolate chip cookie (1938)
    Stories about her creation of the chocolate chip cookie almost always present it as an accident: she ran out of baker's chocolate while baking Chocolate Butter Drop cookies, so she substituted a chopped-up bar of semi-sweet Nestle chocolate and was surprised when it failed to melt into the dough.
    However, Wakefield was: (1) an experienced cook and former home ec teacher who would have known semi-sweet chocolate would not melt into the dough; and (2) a perfectionist who ran the Toll House Inn with military precision and was unlikely to ever be caught without an essential ingredient.
    Her original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies were only the size of a quarter.
    She reportedly resented that chocolate chip cookies eventually overshadowed all her other recipes.
    Her Toll House Inn no longer exists, having burned down in a kitchen fire on New Year's Eve in 1984.
    She and her husband were robbed by four gunmen who stole $200 in cash and $4,000 in jewelry (1935).
    In one of her few interviews, she said she deliberately invented the chocolate chip cookie to give customers 'something different.'
    She sold the right to use the chocolate chip cookie recipe to Nestle for $1 -- which may seem like a bad deal, but Nestle's ads promoted both the Toll House Inn and her cookbook.
    Food critic Duncan Hines raved about her broiled lobster and lemon meringue pie.
    About seven billion chocolate chip cookies are eaten in the US annually; about 50% are homemade.

Credit: C. Fishel


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