• Elizabeth Biar

The Battle of the Historical Chocolate Chip Cookie


Chocolate chip cookies
Left: Better Homes and Gardens. Right: Toll House

It is no secret that I love a good chocolate chip cookie. I think the Toll House recipe is the best.


Or is it?


Since the origin of the Toll House recipe takes us back to the 1930s, I thought it would be fun to compare another vintage recipe from the earlier days. I have my grandmother’s 1946 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. I love old cookbooks as they are an excellent snapshot of history.

1946 Edition Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book
1946 Edition Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

Looking at old recipes is a step back in time and can teach us so much about the period in which it was written. For instance, recipes from the early 1940s, while America was fighting in WWII, used less butter and fats. Fats were used in helping fight the war. For example, lard was used to grease guns. Lard and oils were rationed from March and April 1944 to November 1945. They were hard to find for the everyday housewife. Butter used a higher number of ration stamps, so margarine became increasingly used during this period. It is common to find recipes from this time using margarine instead of butter. Additionally, vegetable shortening was easier to come by when shopping than animal fats.


When you compare the Better Homes and Gardens recipe, you will see they used shortening instead of butter. I believe butter was still used sparingly at this time and was considered more of a luxury. Otherwise, the recipes are very similar.


Additionally, to go for some historical authenticity, I used a broken semi-sweet chocolate bar for the Better Homes and Gardens cookies. When Ruth Wakefield created her famous Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie (later known as the chocolate chip cookie), chocolate chips did not yet exist. Nestle morsels were not invented until at least 1939. Nestle began scoring their bars in 1939 allowing for easier breaking, and soon after they began manufacturing their morsels, aka chocolate chips. The Better Homes and Gardens recipe does actually call for broken pieces of chocolate.


Broken choclate bar for cookie
Broken choclate bar for cookies

Which one was better – Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie or the Better Homes and Gardens Chocolate Chip Cookie (recipe below)?


The winner was the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie. But do not be deterred. I enjoyed the Better Homes and Gardens cookie as well. This cookie dough had a more refined texture; it was not as coarse as the Toll House. The cookie was crunchier and lighter but lacked richness. I found it interesting the cookie which used shortening was crunchier. Usually, butter makes cookies crisper.


The Toll House cookie tastes more of vanilla, and of course, butter. It is a heavier, heartier cookie.


Vintage Toll House Cookie ad
Vintage Toll House Cookie ad

If you want to try the Chocolate Chip Cookie from the 1946 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, give it a try. It is light and crunchy!





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