Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels Celebrates 85th Anniversary

National Chocolate Chip Day: May 15

From the first chocolate chip cookie to decades of inspired chocolate baking, the Nestlé Toll House brand continues its tradition of baking up memories in kitchens across America

Every American has a chocolate chip cookie memory. The scene of children coming home from school to the scent of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies wafting from the oven is as ubiquitous as the chocolate chip cookie itself. This year, Nestlé Toll House is celebrating 85 years of the chocolate bit that dropped its way into the kitchens and memories of American families everywhere—the Nestlé Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsel.

Olympic Candy Kitchen, Goshen, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Nestlé Toll House story begins with chocolate chip cookie inventor Ruth Wakefield who ran the successful Toll House restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts. One day, while baking a batch of Butter Drop Do cookies, a favorite recipe dating back to colonial times, Wakefield broke a bar of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate into tiny pieces and added them to the dough expecting to create a chocolate cookie.

Instead, the semi-sweet bits held their shape and softened to a delicate creamy texture. Wakefield’s Toll House Crunch Cookie recipe was published in a Boston newspaper and quickly became the trending cookie recipe everyone was baking.

“Ruth Wakefield’s unexpected discovery and invention of the chocolate chip cookie, the most popular cookie of all-time, is central to the tradition and heritage of the Nestlé Toll House brand,” says Al Multari, President of the Baking Division at Nestlé , based in Solon, Ohio. “A baking innovator from the start Nestlé Toll House products have inspired home bakers for 75 years and that’s just the beginning of its chocolate baking legacy.”

Realizing a way to make the Wakefield’s Toll House cookie recipe easier for bakers in 1939 Nestlé scored its semi-sweet chocolate bars into 160 right size pieces especially for Nestlé Toll House cookies. Shortly after, the familiar ready-to-use teardrop shaped morsels were introduced. Fast forward to 2024 and we still enjoy one of the most iconic foods of all time—the Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsel.

For 85 years, the Nestlé Toll House brand has led baking trends that millions of home bakers emulate in their own kitchens, according to a news release. From inventive recipes to new morsel flavors to the convenience of ready-to-bake cookie dough, it has never been easier to create and share the delicious taste of Nestlé Toll House products after the game, around the table, or as a midnight snack.

Rebecca Ruth Chocolates, Frankfort, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The famous recipe

Here’s the original recipe that’s still the gold standard of chocolate chip cookie recipes even though it’s been slightly tweaked over the years. Try it!

Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts (optional. If omitting, add 1 to 2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour.)

Rebecca Ruth Chocolates, Frankfort, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Step 2

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Step 3

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Worth Pondering…

Lou pushes a plate of cookies in front of us.

Chocolate pieces tease like jewels in sand.

Please, she says, have some!

I don’t want to be impolite, so I take five.

—Katherine Applegate

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day: August 4

Chocolate chips were invented after chocolate chip cookies

Ruth Wakefield was no cookie-cutter baker. She is widely credited with developing the world’s first recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

In 1937, Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth, owned the famous Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. While mulling new desserts to serve at the inn’s restaurant, she made a batch of Butter Drop Do pecan cookies (a thin butterscotch treat) with an alteration using semisweet chocolate instead of baker’s chocolate.

Rather than melting in the baker’s chocolate, she used an ice pick to cut the semisweet chocolate into tiny pieces. Upon removing the cookies from the oven, Wakefield found that the semisweet chocolate had held its shape much better than baker’s chocolate which tended to spread throughout the dough during baking to create a chocolate-flavored cookie.

Cookies © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These cookies instead had sweet little nuggets of chocolate studded throughout. The treat recipe— Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies—was included in a late 1930s edition of her cookbook, Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes

The cookies were a huge success and Nestlé hired Wakefield as a recipe consultant in 1939, the same year they bought the rights to print her recipe on packages of their semisweet chocolate bars. To help customers create their own bits of chocolate the bars came pre-scored in 160 segments with an enclosed cutting tool.

Three years after that first batch of chocolate chip cookies appeared fresh out of the oven—Nestlé began selling bags of Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels which some dubbed chocolate chips.

By 1941, chocolate chip cookies were the universally recognized name for the delicious treat. An updated version of Wakefield’s recipe called Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies still appears on every bag of morsels. For her contributions to Nestlé, Wakefield reportedly received a lifetime supply of chocolate.   

Kalaches © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The famous recipe

Here’s the original recipe that’s still the gold standard of chocolate chip cookie recipes even though it’s been slightly tweaked over the years. Try it!

Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts (optional. If omitting, add 1 to 2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour.)

Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Step 2

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Step 3

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Numbers don’t lie

  • 90 billion: Individual chocolate morsels Nestle sells every year mostly in 12-ounce bags
  • 38,000 pounds: Weight of the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie
  • 102 feet: Diameter of the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie
  • 30,000: Number of eggs used in the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie
  • 53: Percentage of Americans who prefer chocolate chip cookies to other cookies
  • 13.5: Percentage of American adults who admitted to having eaten at least 20 chocolate chip cookies in one sitting
  • 10: Percentage increase in consumption of chocolate chip cookies after the introduction of detailed Nutrition Facts labels
  • 50: Number of chocolate chips that can be held in a normal tablespoon of cookie dough
  • 104–113 ℉: The ideal temperature for chocolate chips to melt when baking cookies
  • 35,000: Number of cookies the average person consumes in a lifetime.
Pecan pie © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day related holidays

  • January 27: National Chocolate Cake Day
  • May 5: National Chocolate Chip Day
  • October 28: National Chocolate Day

Worth Pondering…

Lou pushes a plate of cookies in front of us.

Chocolate pieces tease like jewels in sand.

Please, she says, have some!

I don’t want to be impolite, so I take five.

—Katherine Applegate

National Chocolate Chip Day: May 15

Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookie dough pops…the possibilities are endless for tasty, irresistible treats on National Chocolate Chip Day

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day! Chocolate chips are an essential ingredient in dozens of delicious baked goods—chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip pancakes, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate chip brownies, chocolate chip bagels, and many more. You can even find chili recipes that call for these sweet morsels!

We might not know which came first—the chicken, or the egg—but when it comes to chocolate chips and their namesake cookie, the history is well-documented and it might not be what you think. Chocolate chips actually came after the chocolate chip cookie and despite their presence everywhere are likely younger than your grandmother.

Yes, Blue Bell offers chocolate chip ice cream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The recipe spread like wildfire and after a few years of selling their semi-sweet chocolate bars with a chopping tool (for easy chunking of the bar), Nestlé went one step further by introducing chocolate morsels to the world. With such a history and with so much mass appeal it’s no surprise that this kitchen delight deserves celebration and that’s why on May 15, we have National Chocolate Chip Day.

Have you ever wondered how a single ingredient would change a recipe? If it weren’t for one curious baker, it would be hard to imagine where we would be without the invention of chocolate chips.

In 1937, Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth, owned the popular Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. While mulling new desserts to serve at the inn’s restaurant, she decided to make a batch of Butter Drop Do pecan cookies (a thin butterscotch treat) with an alteration using semisweet chocolate instead of baker’s chocolate.

Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rather than melting in the baker’s chocolate, she used an ice pick to cut the semisweet chocolate into tiny pieces. Upon removing the cookies from the oven, Wakefield found that the semisweet chocolate had held its shape much better than baker’s chocolate which tended to spread throughout the dough during baking to create a chocolate-flavored cookie. These cookies instead had sweet little nuggets of chocolate studded throughout. The recipe for the treats—known as Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies—was included in a late 1930s edition of her cookbook, Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes

The cookies were a huge success and in 1939 Wakefield signed an agreement with Nestle to add her recipe to the chocolate bar’s packaging. In exchange for the recipe, Wakefield reportedly received a lifetime supply of chocolate. The Nestle brand Toll House cookies were named for the Inn.

Nestle initially included a small chopping tool with the chocolate bars, too.

Rebecca Ruth Chocolates in Frankfort, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Starting in 1941, Nestle and other competitors started selling the chocolate in chip or morsel form. For the first time, bakers began making chocolate chip cookies without chopping up the chocolate bar first. 

Chocolate chips originally came in semi-sweet. Later, chocolate producers began offering bittersweet, mint, white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white and dark swirled. Today, chips also come in a variety of other flavors that bakers and candy makers use creatively in their kitchens.

While cookies may be the first treat to come to mind, imagination is really the only thing limiting how chocolate chips can be used in baking and candy making. Even savory dishes feature chocolate chips in a variety of ways, too. Had Ruth Graves Wakefield never wondered what a few chopped up chunks of chocolate would be like in her baking, we wouldn’t even have chocolate chip cookies.  

Yes to chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Chocolate Chip Day timeline

1937: Ruth Graves Wakefield creates the chocolate-chip cookie

1963: Chips Ahoy! hits the shelves in U.S. supermarkets

1991: Ben and Jerry’s creates Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

1997: The chocolate-chip cookie is named and recognized as the official state cookie of Massachusetts

Yes, Blue Bell offers chocolate chip ice cream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why I love National Chocolate Chip Day

Chocolate chips are everywhere: They might have been created with one purpose in mind but chocolate chips have branched out since their early days as cookie-fillers. Nowadays, it’s hard to think up a confection that hasn’t donned a chocolate chip cap whether its pancakes, muffins, or ice cream sundaes.

The choices … oh, so many choices: The chocolate chips that eventually found their way into the classic chocolate chip cookie are made of semi-sweet chocolate but they now come in a plethora of options ranging from white chocolate to dark chocolate and all the way to caramel ensuring that no matter what you’re baking there’s a place for a chip!

Big or small—I’ll eat them all: Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, no matter the size. They could be small (so long as there’s enough to have more than one!) or they could be massive as in the case of Immaculate Baking’s 40,000 pound Guinness Record breaker but regardless of size, they’re sure to draw a crowd. The fact that chocolate chips were used to break the record of world’s largest cookie is only a testament to their universality and it’s safe to say that they’ll always have a space on the shelf of any baker.

Yes, Ben & Jerry’s offers chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Chocolate Chip Day activities

Hack the kitchen: Chocolate for dinner

Most chefs know how to use tried-and-true flavor combinations to great effect but the best chefs create new combinations altogether. Try using chocolate chips in a dinner recipe for a real challenge. If you’re looking for a place to start, you might consider trying a Mexican mole (pronounced moh-lay) sauce recipe. Mole sauce tastes fantastic with chicken, tostadas, chicken or veggie enchiladas, tacos, and burritos.

Yes to chocolate chip ice cream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How big can you bake it?

You probably won’t approach the world record but National Chocolate Chip Day is the perfect occasion to try your hand at baking the biggest chocolate chip cookie possible.

Art you can eat

With a mix of chocolate chips, M&Ms, and some other similarly-sized chocolate candies you’re well on your way to a kid-friendly edible art project!

Rebecca Ruth Chocolates in Frankfort, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Chocolate Chip Day related holidays

January 27: National Chocolate Cake Day

August 4: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

October 28: National Chocolate Day

Worth Pondering…

Lou pushes a plate of cookies in front of us.

Chocolate pieces tease like jewels in sand.

Please, she says, have some!

I don’t want to be impolite, so I take five.

—Katherine Applegate