Introduction: In this article, Gena Philibert-Ortega searches old newspapers to find delicious chocolate chip cookie recipes. Gena is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.”
The chocolate chip cookie is legendary. It’s probably safe to say that most people like chocolate chip cookies and probably have a favorite recipe. Analysis of the perfect cookie recipe can be found in periodical articles, cookbooks, and TV shows. It’s not surprising that these cookies even have their own day: August 4th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!
To celebrate this special day, I’m presenting here several delicious chocolate chip cookie recipes I found by searching GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.
Credit for the “first” chocolate chip cookie is attributed to Toll House Restaurant owner Ruth Graves Wakefield (1903-1977), whose use of small pieces of chocolate in her cookie recipe drew the attention of Nestlé – who would go on to use Wakefield’s recipe on the back of their chocolate chip bags. The recipe Wakefield developed differs from the more popular home version (she recommended refrigerating the dough overnight), but nevertheless it started a cookie fad that is still going strong more than 75 years later.
(See the end of this article for the three recipes printed in the following newspaper article.)
While the chocolate chip cookie wasn’t the only recipe Mrs. Wakefield made public, it was arguably her most popular. Her obituary quotes her as saying “I’ll never live them down. They’ve had a very interesting life.”
Whether early bakers of chocolate chip cookies were inspired from eating at the Toll House Restaurant or had their own inspiration for a chocolaty cookie, you can find early chocolate chip cookie recipes in newspapers, including this 1938 recipe submitted to the Plain Dealer which earned a prize of $2.50 for recipe submitter Mrs. Dewey Huffman. Her recipe included vanilla, chopped pecans, and 1 pound of semi-sweet chocolate. In the case of the chocolate, she instructs cooks to “chip chocolate into pieces size of peas, do not grate. Biting into pieces of chocolate makes the cookies all the more delicious.”
Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Alternatives
I think we can all agree that the plain chocolate chip cookie, with or without nuts, is perfection – but there are people who’ve tried to tinker with the standard recipe. Sometimes this is done out of necessity, like in the case of World War II food rationing, while others are just trying to enhance an old familiar favorite. A 1942 article from the Seattle Daily Times suggests that home bakers should not stop making cookies because of World War II sugar rationing. Their suggestion for chocolate chip cookies is to add mashed ripe bananas to augment the reduced amount of sugar available.
One of the emphases on cookie making during World War II was that soldiers would be especially grateful for the homemade treats. So, it makes sense that newspapers were suggesting all types of sugar substitutes including honey. This 1944 recipe encourages the use of shortening and honey in lieu of butter and sugar. The article informs readers that “As usual the local home service departments will have their annual displays. They tell us the cookies won’t taste the same as other years because of the fat substitutions but they are still tempting sweets to behold and mighty flavorsome in spite of war shortages.”
They Are My Favorite, What about You?
There’s no doubt that chocolate chip cookies are popular. Today, you don’t have to take the time to bake them; a chocolate chip cookie is as close as your local grocery store, mall, or fast food restaurant. We could argue about which chocolate chip cookies are the best but in the end, chocolate makes almost anything great.
Here are three additional recipes:
Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Do you have one passed down from your mother or grandmother? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.