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Ruth Wakefield (Grade 4)

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Ruth Wakefield: History's Smartest Cookie
by Lena McEachern

The sweet smell of vanilla, sugar and frosting wafted through Ruth Wakefield’s kitchen as she mixed together a batch of fresh chocolate cookies.

She was serving the baked treats to guests at her Toll House Inn for travelers in the year 1930, and some visitors were growing increasingly impatient as the scent of cookie batter grew stronger and stronger.

One guest cried out “How much longer?” with their stomach audibly rumbling.

Ruth was about to respond with “Fifteen more minutes!” when she noticed a serious mistake -- she was all out of the chocolate she needed for baking chocolate cookies. As someone who loved taking care of her guests, Ruth was scared to disappoint them and knew she had to come up with a solution -- and quick. Then, in the corner of her eye, she spotted an unused bar of semi-sweet chocolate.

Thinking quickly, Ruth decided that if she broke up the chocolate bar into small pieces, she could mix them into her cookie batter and have them melt into chocolate cookies. Satisfied with her discovery, Ruth served her guests glasses of milk and convinced them to wait for the cookies for a few more minutes.

After what felt like forever, the oven went Ding! and the cookies were ready to eat. Ruth was excited to take them out of the oven, and the guests couldn’t wait to satisfy the beasts growling inside their stomachs. But, the cookies didn’t look the way anyone expected them to. Instead of melting together, the chocolate bar pieces remained intact like little chips sprinkled throughout the cookie. Although Ruth was surprised and nervous for how her guests would react, she plopped the cookies down onto a plate and served them to her visitors, calling them “Toll House cookies.”

After sitting patiently for minutes while the guests sampled the cookies, Ruth couldn’t take the waiting anymore.

“So, what do you guys think?” she asked. After a moment of painful silence, all the tension disappeared.

“I think that these are the best cookies I’ve ever tasted in my life!” one guest exclaimed passionately.

“I don’t think I can stop eating them,” another guest added. “Please, make more!”

A giant smile appeared across Ruth’s face as she realized her chocolate chip cookies were a hit. After making more and more cookies for her guests, Ruth wondered what to do about her new invention. Everyone in town soon knew about her creation, and she wanted to help others learn how to make their own chocolate chip cookies at home. Her cookie recipe was published in a local Boston newspaper, and people everywhere could bake her delicious treats no matter where they were located.

Because of Ruth’s invention, the company Nestle saw a giant increase in sales for their chocolate bars. In 1939, they began selling chocolate morsels. Now, bakers didn’t have to break up a chocolate bar into small pieces anymore -- they could simply buy the chocolate already broken up into small chips.

After talking with Ruth, Nestle decided to print her “Toll House cookie” recipe on its packaging so that everyone who bought Nestle chocolate could know how to make chocolate chip cookies. In return, Ruth received a lifetime supply of free chocolate.

Even after inventing chocolate chip cookies, Ruth didn’t stop working hard to create delicious new treats. She published helpful cookbooks like Toll House Tried and True Recipes to show readers how to make pies, candies, cakes, frosting, and more.

When Ruth passed away in 1977, she no longer owned the Toll House Inn. She did, however, forever change the way we eat dessert. In the United States, chocolate chip cookies hold a market space of over $18 billion, and every last penny can be traced back to that sweet smell in Ruth’s 1930 kitchen at Toll House Inn.
What problem did Ruth Wakefield discover while making her cookies?
  1. Her oven had stopped working.
  2. She had not made enough batter.
  3. She was out of the chocolate she needed.
  4. Her customers were threatening to leave.
How were the cookies different from what Ruth Wakefield expected?
  1. She wanted the chocolate to melt together, but it stayed in pieces.
  2. She hoped to make chocolate cookies, but they tasted more vanilla.
  3. She thought the cookies would bake quickly, but they took over fifteen minutes.
  4. She served the cookies with glasses of milk, but they crumbled while being dipped.
Which statement best describes Ruth Wakefield?
  1. She wanted to profit off of her chocolate chip cookie recipe.
  2. She was happy to share her chocolate chip cookie recipe for everyone.
  3. She took all of the credit for creating the infamous chocolate chip cookie.
  4. She only baked her cookies for important people and special occasions.
What effect did Ruth Wakefield's cookie recipe have on the Nestle company?
  1. People stopped buying their cookie dough.
  2. They had to hire more cookie bakers.
  3. Sales of their chocolate bars increased.
  4. There was no effect.
Which statement best describes the moral of the story?
  1. Chocolate chip cookies are the best type of cookie.
  2. Sometimes a mistake can lead to something amazing.
  3. Guests who visit hotels like to eat a lot of cookies.
  4. People had to be creative in the 1930s.
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