The original Toll House Cookie recipe, plus the famous chocolate chip cookie’s history

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The now ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie came to be back in 1938, and by 1939, those tasty little treats were already being called “famous.”

Here is the original Toll House Cookie recipe that was syndicated to newspapers nationwide during ’39, along with an ad that ran at the time.

Note that this is before the chocolate had been made into chips, so home bakers had to cut chocolate bars into pieces to make them work in this recipe.

By 1943 — right in the middle of World War II — chocolate was in short supply… but the company still urged people stateside to use what little of that deliciousness that they had to make Toll House chocolate chip cookies to send off to the boys out on the front. See that request below, too!

Toll House: Deliciously different chocolate cookies (1939)

The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey) October 17, 1939

The problem of what to give the kiddies coming home from school, or to serve the bridge club the next time it’s your turn to entertain, can be solved by a batch of these delicious cookies.

They’re “Toll House Cookies” because Ruth Wakefield of New England’s famous Toll House Inn originated them. These cookies are sure to delight your bridge club and the family too, they’re new and different.

Crisp, tender, golden brown cookies, and when you bite into one — surprise! There’s a rich bit of semisweet chocolate and a taste of walnut in that bite, and the next and the next. A perfect flavor combination!

Toll House cookies are as much fun to make as they are to serve.

Deliciously different chocolate cookies

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Original Toll House Cookie recipe (1939)

Yield: 50
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Note that this is the classic recipe, invented before chocolate chips were available, and so it uses a cut chocolate bar instead.


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or other shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 7 ounce bar semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Important: Cut each small square of semisweet chocolate into four pieces.
  2. Cream butter or other shortening and add sugars and beaten egg.
  3. Dissolve soda in the hot water and mix alternately with the flour sifted with the salt.
  4. Lastly, add the chopped nuts and the pieces of semisweet chocolate.
  5. Flavor with the vanilla and drop by half teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in a 375 (F) degree Fahrenheit oven.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 50 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 40mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 1g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

ALSO SEE: Toll House cake with vanilla and chocolate (1949) & Toll House Pie: Chocolate chip pie recipe (1986)

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by bhofack2/Deposit Photos

Famous TollHouse Cookies

This unusual offer is made to acquaint you with Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate — delicious to eat, and delicious in those famous Toll House Cookies.

The original Toll House Cookie recipe (1939)

World War II: Send your soldier some chocolate chip cookies (1943)

His one weakness… Toll House cookies from home. Now that Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate is harder to get — because so much of it is going to the fighting forces in emergency and combat rations — put it to the best possible use.

Make up a batch of those golden-brown, crunch Toll House Cookies and send it to that soldier boy of yours. He always did go for those crisp, brown cookies…

Toll House Cookies 1943 WWII

Toll House cookie history has Colonial roots (1961)

This year [1961] marks the 20th anniversary of the Toll House cookie. Filled with semisweet chocolate morsels and nuts, these delectable cookies have won first place in the affections of home bakers.

While the Toll House cookie as we know it is only sweet and 20, its lineage goes back to Colonial days. Then it emerged from old-fashioned beehive ovens and answered to the name of butter Drop-Do (or Dough).

Making Drop-Do cookies was no simple matter for the Colonial goodwife. To bake, she first had to milk the cow, skim the cream, and churn the butter. She snipped sugar from a hard 10-pound loaf and sifted flour through a silk cloth. Eggs were beaten with a little switch of twigs.

Because of the labor involved, women baked infrequently and shared their sweets with neighbors. The pleasant custom of sharing baked goodies continued.

By 1766, when regular stagecoach service had been established from Philadelphia to New York, the roadside inns offered cookies among other refreshments. And as the years passed, cookies still welcomed travelers to roadside inns.

ALSO TRY: Toll House Marble Squares bar cookies (1960s)Toll House pan cookies

Butter Drop-Do

Twenty years ago, the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, added to the old butter Drop-Do recipe pieces of semi-sweet chocolate chopped from a candy bar.

Amazingly, the chocolate didn’t melt in the baking, but remained as delicious little nuggets. New Englanders knew a good thing when they tasted it — and the Toll House cookie rush was on.

The cookies, however, presented a minor problem. It took sturdy arms to break, up the chocolate into the required morsels — that is, until semi-sweet chocolate morsels were created and packaged for the housewife’s convenience.

The Toll House cookie and its cousins go from mixing bowl to oven to serving platter in minutes. Unlike your ancestor who made the butter Drop-Do, you won’t have to begin by milking the cow!

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Comments on this story

4 Responses

  1. Thank you! I’ve been looking for this recipe forever. They have altered it, but this is the original and best recipe and METHOD to making it soooo good. Thanks again.

  2. my mother worked at the toll house when the cookie was invented! she lived in randolph and commuted to work….

  3. Nice to hear about other locals from that era. My family owned a fabric shop across Auburn Street from the Toll House. Mrs. Wakefield was a good customer of ours getting fabric for her curtains and table linen.

    My fondest memory of her was when my brother and I were visiting the fabric shop as kids when she’d stop by. As a treat, we would walk across the street with her for a Toll House cookie and Toll House ice cream. To this day, Toll House cookies are my personal favorite sweet.

    By the way, Dana, Mrs. Wakefield always made the dough the night before and refrigerated it overnight. The secret to keeping the cookies soft on the inside, according to her, was to make sure you started with a cold batter going into the oven. That and rolling them into little balls before baking.

  4. I used to bake Nestle Toll House cookies using the recipe on the back of the bag in 1958 when I was a kid, is this the same recipe? How many chocolate chips does one use in place of the chipped bar of semi-sweet chocolate, just the same weight? I thought the chocolate chips came in an even 8 oz bag. Thank you for any further info. I would love to find a picture of a bag from the 1950s to compare to this recipe. Thank you!

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