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Rolled cake topped with peanuts and with peanut butter/jelly filling visible at end


A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Peanut Roll Cake with Jelly.

Chef’s Notes


When we were reading through hundreds of George Washington’s Carver’s recipes, this one stood out. It’s a wow—a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dessert! Chef Kasem Faraj, our resident Greenfield Village chef, spent hours making this one just perfect. We’ve had many variations of the PB&J in our lifetime, and this one takes the cake—just have fun and roll with it.


Recipe: Peanut Roll Cake with Jelly

Makes 1 Cake; Serves 8

Cake ingredients

4 each             Eggs

7 oz                  Granulated Sugar

¾ tsp                Baking Powder

½ tsp                Salt

¼ tsp                Baking Soda

4 ½ oz              All Purpose Flour, Sifted

3 oz                  Butter, Melted

1 oz                  Vanilla Extract

Filling ingredients

1 ½ oz              Granulated Peanuts

2 oz                  Smooth Peanut Butter

4 oz                  Raspberry Currant Jam/Jelly

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine eggs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixture (or use a hand mixer and bowl).
  3. Mix on medium-low speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and runny, about 3 minutes.
  4. Increase the speed to medium and whip until the mixture is a play yellow and thick enough to fall from the whisk in ribbons.
  5. Increase the speed again to high and continue whipping until the mixture has roughly doubled in volume and is thick.
  6. Reduce speed to medium-low and add vanilla and melted butter in a steady stream.
  7. Add sifted flour all at once and mix just enough to incorporate the flour.
  8. Pour batter into a half sheet tray or 13” x 9” baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper and nonstick spray.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cake is done when the cake is puffed, lightly brown from edge to edge, and slightly firm.
  10. While cake is still warm, place on a linen towel and roll tightly. Allow cake to cool while rolled to shape and keep from cracking when filled and rolled.
  11. Once cake has cooled, unroll cake, and cover the inside of the roll with peanut butter, jelly, and granulated peanuts.
  12. Re-roll the cake and allow to sit with the seam on the bottom.
  13. Glaze cake with a simple icing and top with additional granulated peanuts if desired.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

making, George Washington Carver, by Eric Schilbe, restaurants, Greenfield Village, food, recipes

Redware dish containing orange baked pudding, sitting on a wooden table

Puddings of the 18th century came in a variety of flavors, both savory and sweet, with many containing vegetables, and were more like the texture and consistency of a modern-day bread pudding. The shape of these puddings varied as well, since some were baked while others were boiled. In order to bake a pudding, a baking dish was needed, most often a simple round redware dish with high sides. The recipe would be prepared in the redware dish and then baked inside of a cast iron bake kettle, with hot coals underneath and on top. Puddings were eaten as part of the midday dinner meal.


From The First American Cookbook by Amelia Simmons in 1796, this recipe for carrot pudding pairs perfectly with our redware baking dish created in Greenfield Village.

Carrot Pudding Recipe
“Baked in a deep dish without paste [pie crust]”

Ingredients

  • A coffee cup (¾ cup) full of boiled carrots, processed until smooth
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Cinnamon and rose water to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients together, adding the eggs one at a time. Pour prepared mixture into a buttered baking dish and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

making, Greenfield Village, recipes, food

Red casserole dish filled with cooked greens, sitting on butcher block

A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like these Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey.

Chef’s Notes


What is Southern cooking without greens? There are lots of different ways to go, and almost no way to go wrong. Just be sure to cook the greens long enough, and don’t add any extra salt until done.

We chose to add smoked turkey to this dish to build truly rich flavors into something very simple. If you don’t have a smoker, smoked turkey wings or legs are readily available, fresh or frozen, at most local grocers. Or you can make this dish vegan by omitting the turkey and smoking the onions before adding—or simply cook it over a campfire to achieve a rich, smoky flavor.  

Recipe: Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey


Makes 8 Portions


Ingredients

2 lb                  Fresh Collard Greens

8 oz                  White Onion

8 cloves           Fresh Garlic

8 oz                  Smoked Turkey Wing Meat

1 oz                  Cider Vinegar

4 C                   Vegetable Stock/Broth

To taste           Salt and Pepper



Procedure

 

  1. Dice onions and sauté in a pot until translucent.
  2. Mince garlic and add to pot along with turkey wings.
  3. Deglaze pan with cider vinegar, then add in chopped collard greens and vegetable stock.
  4. Simmer on low until greens are tender and all liquid has been absorbed, approximately 1 ½ hours.
  5. Season with salt and pepper as needed.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

restaurants, Greenfield Village, food, George Washington Carver, by Eric Schilbe, making, recipes

Red dish filled with a vegetable medley; other dishes visible in background

A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Sweet Potato Hash.

Chef’s Notes


This hash covers so many of the vegetables Carver used, all in one. This dish is bound to make a big impact on your table, as simple ingredients come together to create this wonderful dish. Follow the cooking directions carefully and the textures and flavors will all be distinct until they meld together on the plate.

You can cook all the ingredients separately and chill until you are ready to eat, then simply sauté everything together in a hot pan—that is what we chefs would do!

Recipe: Sweet Potato Hash


Makes 8 Portions


Ingredients

1 ½  lb              Sweet Potatoes

¼ C                  Melted Butter

4 oz                  Red Onion

4 oz                  Celery

4 oz                  Red Bell Pepper

2 cloves           Fresh Garlic

1 tsp                Fresh Parsley

To taste           Salt and Pepper

¼ cup               Granulated Peanuts



Procedure

  1. Peel and dice sweet potatoes.
  2. Roast sweet potatoes in 350°F oven until tender.
  3. Dice onions, celery, and red pepper, keeping them all separate.
  4. Melt butter in a large pan and sauté onions until translucent.
  5. Add celery, minced garlic, and red pepper and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
  6. Add peanuts and sweet potatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes, making sure to stir constantly.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

George Washington Carver, food, making, by Eric Schilbe, Greenfield Village, restaurants, recipes

Four roasted chicken breasts in a cast iron dish on a butcher's block


A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Brined and Roasted Chicken.

Chef’s Notes


Running out of time? This recipe takes plenty of patience and is well worth it, but if you need something quick, you can roast the chicken with salt and pepper for a few minutes, then brush it with melted butter, apple cider vinegar, and pure maple syrup. Continue roasting, brushing with the mixture an additional two or three times, until the chicken is fully cooked.

We also recommend serving it alongside the sauce (link below). There are many other sauces that Carver has recipes for in his published papers, but we chose the green Tomato Chili Sauce because it uniquely balances the sweet maple flavor of the chicken with just enough spice to make it dance on your palette. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat when you are ready to eat.

Recipe: Brined and Roasted Chicken


Makes 8 Chicken Breasts


Maple Brine Ingredients

4 C Boiling Water

7 oz Granulated Sugar

3 oz Kosher Salt

1 C Maple Syrup

3 sprigs Fresh Thyme

4 C Ice


Additional Ingredients

8 Chicken Breasts (6–8 oz each)


Procedure

  1. Combine boiling water, sugar, salt, maple syrup, and thyme and stir until sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
  2. Add ice and stir, allowing the liquid to cool completely.
  3. Rinse the chicken breast and completely submerge in maple brine. Refrigerate for at least five hours.
  4. After five hours, remove the chicken and rinse clean. Discard the used brine.
  5. Roast at 350°F until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, approximately 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve chicken with Tomato Chili Sauce.



Whether you make it for yourself at home, or pay a visit to A Taste of History in Greenfield Village to let us make it for you, let us know what you think!


Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

making, restaurants, food, by Eric Schilbe, Greenfield Village, recipes, George Washington Carver

Silver dish with handles, containing green sauce, sitting on butcher block

A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Tomato Chili Sauce.

Chef’s Notes


There are many other sauces that Carver has recipes for in his published papers, but we chose the green Tomato Chili Sauce because it uniquely balances the sweet maple flavor of the Brined and Roasted Chicken (link below) with just enough spice to make it dance on your palette. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat when you are ready to eat.

Recipe: Tomato Chili Sauce


Makes 8 Portions


Ingredients

1 lb Fresh Green Tomatoes

3 oz Jalapeno Peppers

3 oz White Onion

1 oz Granulated Sugar

½ C Vinegar

1 Tbs Salt

¼ tsp Pepper  


Procedure

  1. Peel tomatoes by placing in boiling water for 1 minute, shock by placing in ice water, and then peel skins.
  2. Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove seeds and piths. Reserve seeds for later.
  3. Dice tomatoes, jalapenos, and onions and combine in small saucepan with all ingredients.
  4. Bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 1-2 hours, and then puree.
  5. Adjust seasoning as necessary with salt, pepper, sugar, and jalapeno seeds. The spice level should be a medium, balanced heat.
  6. Serve with Brined and Roasted Chicken.



Whether you make it for yourself at home, or pay a visit to A Taste of History in Greenfield Village to let us make it for you, let us know what you think!


Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

George Washington Carver, restaurants, recipes, making, Greenfield Village, food, by Eric Schilbe

Portrait of Black man with mustache wearing jacket and tie
George Washington Carver's Graduation Photo from Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (now Iowa State University), 1893 /
THF214111

George Washington Carver and Food


George Washington Carver (1860s–1943) was born near the end of the Civil War in Missouri. He studied plants his entire life, loved art and science, earned two agricultural science degrees from Iowa State University, and shared his knowledge broadly during his 45-year-career at Tuskegee Institute. He urged farm families to care for their land. Today we call this regenerative agriculture, but in Carver’s day it amounted to a revolutionary agricultural ethic.

Carver’s curiosity about plants fueled another revolution as he promoted hundreds of new uses for things that farm families could grow and eat. Cookbooks inspired him to adapt, and he worked with Tuskegee students to test and refine recipes. Then he compiled them in bulletins that stressed the connection between the environment and human health.

Today, our chefs at The Henry Ford are inspired by Carver’s dozens of bulletins and hundreds of recipes for chutneys, roast meats, salads, and peanut-topped sweet rolls.

Page with text and photo of men with baskets of peas
Some Possibilities of the Cow Pea in Macon County, Alabama, a 1910 bulletin by Carver featuring recipes. / THF213269

Developing Modern Carver-Inspired Recipes


Silver platter filled with meat in a brown sauce, topped with tomato slices and jalapeno peppers; text label behind dish
All Natural Pork with Peanut Plum Sauce at Plum Market Kitchen.

Carver is known to most of us for his many uses for the peanut. The Henry Ford’s culinary team looks to go beyond that, knowing that there is so much more to his legacy. Cultural appropriation is a hot topic in the world of food service today, but as a public history institution, we recognize that food is culture, and we are committed to authentic representation of a variety of food traditions. We are constantly collaborating and developing new recipes in consultation with our curators, who provide expert understanding and context. Part of the mission that drives our chefs is to understand the full story, and to help all our guests complete that experience as well.


Carver-Influenced Menu at Plum Market Kitchen


White ceramic dish containing a colorful salad and label with text, sitting on white and gray marble counter
Kale, Roasted Peanut, and Pickled Red Onion Salad with Molasses Vinaigrette at Plum Market Kitchen

Many aspects of Carver’s legacy are woven into a modern menu at Plum Market Kitchen at The Henry Ford. Today, the ideas of all-natural, healthy, and organic have become “tag lines” to sell you food. However, for Carver, and for Plum Market Kitchen, these have always been a driving ideology. Together, The Henry Ford and Plum Market Kitchen have taken inspiration from many of Carver’s recipes—always looking to honor and continue his legacy.

Digging Deeper into Carver’s Legacy at A Taste of History


Dishes containing chicken, greens, mixed vegetables, a green sauce, and a rolled cake
Spring offerings from George Washington Carver's recipes at A Taste of History.

While our new recipes at Plum Market Kitchen are inspired by Carver, with modern adaptations, our new offerings in A Taste of History are more directly drawn from Carver’s own recipes and the ingredients he used. Spring offerings at A Taste of History include the following—click through for recipes to try at home.



Learn More


Silver chafing dish containing large chunks of sweet potatoes topped with herbs, sitting on white and gray marble counter

Farmhouse Roasted Sweet Potatoes at Plum Market Kitchen.

If you’d like to further explore the life and work of George Washington Carver, issues surrounding food security, historic recipes, or dining at The Henry Ford, here are some additional resources across our website:

  • Take a closer look at Black empowerment through Black education with the microscope used by agricultural scientist George Washington Carver during his tenure at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
  • Throughout Carver’s life, he balanced two interests and talents—the creative arts and the natural sciences. Find out how each influenced the other.
  • Learn more about the history of the George Washington Carver Cabin in Greenfield Village.
  • Explore artifacts, photographs, letters, and other items related to Carver in our Digital Collections.
  • Food security links nutritious food to individual and community health. Explore this concept through the collections of The Henry Ford in this blog post, which includes Carver’s work.
  • Find out what a food soldier is, as well as how food and nutrition relate to issues of institutional racism and equity for African Americans.
  • Explore historic cookbooks and recipes from our collections.
  • Get up-to-date information about dining options in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford. Debra A. Reid is Curator of Agriculture and the Environment at The Henry Ford. 

Greenfield Village, Henry Ford Museum, African American history, George Washington Carver, restaurants, by Eric Schilbe, by Debra A. Reid, recipes, food

Woman in candlelit kitchen with a variety of bowls and plates containing food on kitchen table


From the kitchens of Greenfield Village to yours at home, this year’s collection of Holiday Nights recipes are inspired by our own historic recipe bank. Try our 2020 recipes and then dig deeper into our online collection of historic recipes. Thanks to our supporting partners at Meijer for making this year’s recipe collection possible.

Card and text versions of the recipes follow, or access a high-res PDF, suitable for printing, of all four recipe cards here.

(Please Note: These recipes are taken from original historical resources and contain spellings and references that will be unfamiliar to today’s cooks. These were retained for accuracy and are explained where possible.)


FORD HOME, 1876


Recipe card with text

New's [New Year's] Eve Cookies 

Weigh out a pound of sugar, three-quarters pound butter, stir them to a cream, then add three beaten eggs, a grated nutmeg, a spoonful of extract of lemon and a pint of flour; dissolve a teaspoonful of saleratus [baking powder] in a teacup of milk, strain and mix it with half a teacup of cider and stir it into the cookies; then add flour to make them sufficiently stiff to roll out. Bake them as soon as cut into cakes in a quick oven [375-400º F] till light brown.

May Perrin Goff, Detroit Free Press Cook Book (The Household and Ladies Cyclopeadia), p. 43.


EDISON HOMESTEAD, 1915


Recipe card with text

Snow Balls

2 cups sugar
1 cup sweet milk
½ cup butter
3 cups Five Roses flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
5 eggs (whites)

Mix and beat well. Bake in deep square tin. Cut in 2 inch squares. Remove outside. Frost on all sides, then roll in freshly grated cocoanut.

Confectioner’s Frosting: Two tablespoons boiling water or cream and a little flavoring essence of vanilla, lemon, or almond. Add enough confectioner’s sugar to the liquid to make of right consistency to spread.

Lake of the Woods Milling Company Limited, The Five Roses Cook Book, 1915, p. 86, 121.


GIDDINGS FAMILY HOME, 1760


2020 Holiday Nights Recipe Cards_3_Syllabub

Everlasting Syllabub

Take five half pints of thick cream, half a pint of Rhenish wine, half a pint of sack, and the juice of two large Seville oranges, grate in just the yellow rind of three lemons, and a pound of double-refined sugar well beat and sifted; mix all together with a spoonful of orange-flower water; beat it well together with a whisk half an hour, then with a spoon take it off, and lay it on a sieve to drain, then fill your glasses: these will keep about a week, and are better made the day before. The best way to whip syllabub is, have a fine large chocolate-mill, which you must keep on purpose, and a large deep bowl to mill them in: it is both quicker done, and the froth stronger; for the thin that is left at the bottom, have ready some calf’s-foot jelly boiled and clarified, there must be nothing but the calf’s-foot boiled to a hard jelly; when cold take off the fat, clear it with the whites of eggs, run it through a flannel bag, and mix it with the clear which you saved of the syllabubs; sweeten it to your palate, and give it a boil, then pour it into basins, or what you please: when cold, turn it out, and it is a fine flummery.

Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1796, p. 179-80.


SUSQUEHANNA PLANTATION, 1860


Recipe card with text

Lafayette Ginger Cake

One and a half pounds of wheat flour, quarter of a pound of butter, one pint of molasses, one pint of brown sugar, ten eggs, ginger to the taste, one teaspoonful of pearlash  [1/2 tsp. baking soda] dissolved in warm water; stir all together, and bake in pans or patties. Currants and raisins may be added.

Sarah Rutledge, The Carolina Housewife, 1847, p. 198.

Greenfield Village, food, recipes, holidays, Holiday Nights, events, Christmas

This Father’s Day treat dad to two favorite dishes from our chefs at The Henry Ford – pulled pork from A Taste of History and pioneering cookbook author Fannie Farmer’s macaroni and cheese.

A Taste of History Pulled Pork
This true summertime favorite will take a little extra time, but it is so worth it. This will freeze and reheat well, so you can have many meals from it.

1 cup chili powder
½ cup ground cumin
½ cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground oregano
½ cup kosher salt
1 boneless pork shoulder (pork butt), about 8 pounds                    

Mix the dry ingredients together to make a spice rub. (This rub can be used to season almost anything that goes on a grill.) Generously coat the pork on all sides with the spice rub, then wrap it in plastic and refrigerate overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 300 F. Place the meat in a covered baking dish, Dutch oven or roasting pan, leaving plenty of space around the meat. Add warm water until the pork is almost half submerged (the amount will vary according to the dish used). Bake for 5-6 hours or until fork-tender. If there is any doubt, let it cook longer. Once out of the oven, drain the liquid, reserving it for the barbecue sauce (recipe below), and let pork cool on the counter until easier to handle, about 1 hour. Using forks or tongs, shred the pork, but not too fine. Remove any large fat pieces.

A Taste of History Pulled Pork Barbecue Sauce

¼ cup olive oil
16 ounces sliced onions
2  12-ounce cans plum tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup kosher salt
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup molasses
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup prepared mustard

While the pork is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pot and cook the onions until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour, whisking often. Add the reserved liquid from the cooked pork, first pouring off the fat from the top. While the barbecue sauce is still hot, pour it over the shredded pork and mix it in. Cover and keep warm until served.

Serve the pulled pork on your favorite burger buns, a baked potato, cornbread or by itself. Bread and butter pickles are a perfect side.

Fannie Farmer Mac and Cheese
½ pound butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound elbow noodles
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided


mac-and-cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt butter in large saucepan. Add flour to butter, cooking until a very light tan while stirring constantly. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently simmer for 15-20 minutes until flour taste is gone. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in salted water until tender; drain well. Combine the hot noodles, milk mixture and 2 cups of the cheese. Put into baking pan and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake until cheese is lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes, depending on desired crispness. Enjoy immediately. It will also hold nicely for an hour if kept warm. 

recipes, food

Many of us have been baking a bit more than usual while staying at home. So, let’s take look at how America’s favorite cookie, the chocolate chip, was born.

Before we get to chocolate chips, let’s talk chocolate. It’s made from the beans of the cacao tree and was introduced by the Aztec and Mayan peoples to Europeans in the late 1500s.  Then a dense, frothy beverage thickened with cornmeal and flavored with chilies, vanilla, and spices, it was used in ancient ceremonies.

thf284540
Map of the Americas, 1550. THF284540

Colonial Americans imported cacao from the West Indies. They consumed it as a hot beverage, made from ground cacao beans, sugar, vanilla and water, and served it in special chocolate pots.

thf145291
Chocolate Pot, 1760-1790  THF145291

In the 1800s, chocolate made its way into an increasing number of foods, things like custards, puddings, and cookies, and onto chocolate-covered candy. It was not just for drinking anymore!

thf299872
Trade Card, Granite Ironware, 1880-1890 THF299872

Today, most Americans say chocolate is their favorite flavor. Are you a milk or dark chocolate fan? My vote? Dark chocolate.

Cookies were special treats into the early 1800s; sweeteners were costly and cookies took more time and labor to make. Imagine easing them in and out of a brick fireplace over with a long-handled peel.

kitchen
Detail of late 18th century kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. See the kitchen for yourself with this virtual visit.

As kitchen technology improved in the early 1900s, especially the ability to regulate oven temperature, America’s cookie repertoire grew.

30s-kitchen
Detail of 1930s kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. See the kitchen yourself with this virtual visit

mousse
Until the 1930s, baking chocolate was melted in a double boiler before being added to cookie dough. Check out this 1920 recipe for Chocolate Mousse from our historic recipe bank.   

Then came Ruth Graves Wakefield and the chocolate chip cookie. Ruth, a graduate of the Framingham State Normal School of Household Arts, had taught high school home economics and had worked as a dietitian. 

ruth
Image: "Overlooked No More: Ruth Wakefield, Who Invented the Chocolate Chip Cookie" from The New York Times

In 1930, 27-year-old Ruth and her husband Kenneth opened a restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts called the Toll House Inn. The building had never been a toll house, but was located on an early road between Boston and New Bedford. The restaurant would grow from seven tables to 60. 

thf183299
Toll House Inn business card, 1930s. THF183299

A quick aside: our 1820s Rocks Village Toll House in Greenfield Village. Early travelers paid tolls to use roads or cross bridges. This one collected fares for crossing the Merrimack River.   

thf2033
Rocks Village, Massachusetts toll house in Greenfield Village. THF2033

With Ruth Wakefield’s background in household arts, she was well-prepared to put together a menu for her restaurant. It was a great location. The Toll House Inn served not only the locals, but people passing through on their way between Boston and Cape Cod. 

thf183300
Toll House Inn business card, 1930s. THF18330

Over time, Ruth’s reputation grew, and the restaurant became well-known for her skillful cooking, wonderful desserts, and excellent service.  On the back of this circa 1945 Toll House Inn postcard, a customer wrote: “…down here two weeks ago & had a grand dinner.” 

thf183298
Toll House Inn postcard, about 1945. THF183298

Ruth Wakefield, curious and willing to experiment, liked to create new dishes and desserts to delight her customers. The inn had been serving a butterscotch cookie--which everyone loved--but Ruth wanted to “give them something different.”

About 1938, Ruth had an inspiration. She chopped up a Nestle’s semisweet chocolate bar with an ice pick and stirred the bits into her sweet butter cookie batter.  The chocolate bits melted--and didn’t spread, remaining in chunks throughout the dough.    

thf125196
Recipe Booklet, "Favorite Chocolate Recipes made with Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate," 1940. THF125196

Legend has it that the cookies were an accident--that Ruth had expected to get all-chocolate cookies when the chocolate melted. One of those “creation myths?” A great marketing tale? Ruth was a meticulous cook and food science savvy. She said it was a deliberate experiment.

The marriage of sweet, buttery cookie dough and semisweet chocolate was a hit--the cookies quickly became popular with guests. Ruth shared the recipe when asked. Local newspapers published it.  And she included it in the 1938 edition of her “Tried and True Recipes” cookbook.

thf183297
The Toll House, Whitman, Massachusetts, circa 1945. THF183297

Nestle’s saw sales of its semisweet chocolate bar jump dramatically in New England--especially after the cookie was featured on a local radio show.  When Nestle discovered why, they signed a contract with Ruth Wakefield, allowing Nestle to print the recipe on every package. 

nestle-truck
Nestle’s truck, 1934. Z0001194


Nestle began scoring its semisweet chocolate bar, packaging it with a small chopper for easy cutting into morsels. The result was chocolate “chips”--hence the name.   

thf125194
Recipe Booklet, "Favorite Chocolate Recipes made with Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate," 1940. THF125194

In 1939, Nestle introduced semisweet morsels. Baking Toll House Cookies became even more convenient, since you didn’t have to cut the chocolate into pieces.

thf183303
Toll House Cookies and Other Favorite Chocolate Recipes Made with Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, 1941. THF183303

Nestle included the Toll House Cookie “backstory” and the recipe in booklets promoting their semisweet chocolate. 

thf125195

During World War II, Nestle encouraged people to send Toll House Cookies to soldiers. For many, it was their first taste of a chocolate chip cookie--its popularity spread beyond New England.

thf183306
Advertisement, "His One Weakness, Toll House Cookies from Home" November 1943. 
THF183306

The homemaker in this 1940s Nestle’s ad celebrates her success as a hostess when serving easy-to-make Toll House Cookies. Chocolate chips would, indeed, soon become our “national cookie.” 

thf183305
They Never Get Enough of My Toll-House Cookies!, 1945-1950. THF183304

Chocolate chip morsels were a great idea, so other companies followed suit.

thf295928
Recipe Leaflet, "9 Famous Recipes for Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Dainties," 1956. THF295928

Other delectable treats, like these “Chocolate Refresher” bars shown in this 1960 ad, can be made with chocolate morsels. The possibilities are endless.

thf43907
Nestle's Semi-Sweet Morsels Advertisement, "Goody for You," 1960. THF43907

More from The Henry Ford: Enjoy a quick “side trip” to this blog about more American chocolate classics.

Holiday baking is a cherished tradition for many. Chocolate chip cookies are frequently a key player in the seasonal repertoire. Hallmark captured holiday baking memories in this ornament.

thf177745
Hallmark "Christmas Cookies" Christmas Ornament, 2004. THF177747

The museum’s 1946 Lamy’s Diner serves Toll House Cookies. Whip up a batch of chocolate chips at home and enjoy a virtual visit

Cookie dough + chocolate chips = America’s favorite cookie! It may have been simple, but no one else had ever tried it before! Hats off to Ruth Wakefield!

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Toll House Cookies and Other Favorite Chocolate Recipes Made with Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, 1941. THF183301

After all this talk of all things chocolate, are you ready for a cookie? This well-known cookie lover probably is!

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Cookie Monster Toy Clock, 1982-1986. THF318447 

Jeanine Head Miller is Curator of Domestic Life at The Henry Ford.

restaurants, women's history, recipes, food, entrepreneurship, by Jeanine Head Miller, #THFCuratorChat