Promoting passion in book collecting
Boston is famous for the Boston cream pie (which is really a cake!), but the area is also the birthplace of America’s favorite cookie. The chocolate cookie was created by mistake in Whitfield, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. Its creator, Ruth Graves Wakefield, did Nestle quite a favor and struck an unusual deal with the chocolate company.
Born in 1905, Wakefield went on to graduate from Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. She worked as a food lecturer and dietitian until she and her husband, Kenneth, purchased the old Smith House on Bedford Street in 1929. The house had been partially constructed by Jacob Bates in 1816 and 1817, and Lebbeus Smith completed the home after marrying Bates’ sister Polly. The Wakefields named the property the Toll House Inn, and included “Established 1709” on the signage.
A toll house was a place where travelers could stop and pay a toll to change their horses and eat a wholesome meal. The Smith House had never actually been a toll house, but the Wakefields recognized a great marketing strategy when they saw it. Local historian Martha Campbell recalls, “Nobody ever worried about the imaginative date and name for this restaurant. Everybody knew that it was just a good promotional technique, and everybody who ever ate there will always remember the Wakefields.” Ruth did, however, continue the toll house tradition of serving delicious, home cooked meals. Though the restaurant opened during the Great Depression, people still managed to find a dollar for a meal at the Toll House Inn.
Wakefield ran quite the tight ship. One waitress noted that “she was tight as bark on a tree.” Servers were not allowed to use paper, so they had to commit all orders to memory. And they were also trained not to ask guests what they’d ordered when the food arrived at the table. Napkins were always folded perfectly, and Wakefield took pains to appoint the Toll House Inn with fine accoutrements from around the world. Her ornamental glassware was even photographed for Woman’s Day Dictionary of Sandwich Glass in 1963.
But where Wakefield really excelled was in the kitchen, and she soon gained a reputation for creating delicious desserts. One day while making chocolate cookies based on a butter drop recipe, she realized she was out of baker’s chocolate. Wakefield decided to improvise. She broke up a bar of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate in the dough, assuming it would melt, absorb into the dough, and yield chocolate cookies. To her surprise, the chocolate didn’t melt into the dough! Instead, Wakefield had created chocolate chip cookies. She initially called them Toll House Crunch Cookies, and they became immensely popular.
Wakefield’s chocolate chip cookies were such a hit that a Boston newspaper printed her recipe. Sales of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate spiked almost immediately. Wakefield contacted Nestle with a business proposition, and ended up striking a deal with company founder Andrew Nestle himself. Nestle would print Wakefield’s recipe on the wrappers of Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate, and Wakefield would get a lifetime supply of chocolate.
Not long after, Nestle began producing and marketing semi-sweet morsels expressly for making chocolate chip cookies. Meanwhile Wakefield would go on to publish Toll House Tried and True Recipes (1940). Like her cookies, Wakefield’s cookbook was a smashing success, and has gone to 39 printings. The charming cookbook is popular among collectors thanks to the scrumptious invention of its author.
From the “Gold Medalist,” author, and teacher at the School of Confectionery in Blackpool, George F. Burton comes written guidance on the art of chocolate making. An incredibly thorough look at this intricate art, including: Utensils, Materials and Ingredients, Fondant Making, Chocolate Dipping, Cream Centers, Marzipan Centers, Crystallized Creams, Jellies, Caramels, Toffees, Gum Paste Work and Modeling, etc. Black-and-white frontis photo of author, 10 color plates, over 50 black and white illustrations, 2 pages of advertisements. Covers rubbed, lightly soiled. Internal crisp and clean. Orig. brown boards with embossed bon-bon on cover. Very good. Hardcover. Details>>
A Young Man and a Nail CanA copiously illustrated story of rags to riches. Beginning as a sugar-stirrer at the age of eleven, a young Australian lad by the name Macpherson Robertson started his own confectionary business in his mother’s bathroom. Commencing in 1880, Robertson built that small business into the largest Chocolate and Confectionary establishment in Australia by the year 1921. This book is a history of that company which produced products like the Cherry Ripe and Freddo Frog (small newspaper clipping slipped in: “Jan. 29 2007″ obituary of Harry Melbourne, inventor of Freddo). Gold illustrated watered silk linings, Color illustrated wrappers bound in, illustrated endpapers, black and white photos though out, 24 color plates with tissue guards (2 embossed). Clean, crisp interior, corners bumped. Orig. quarter bound, blue silk, title in gilt. Near fine. Hardcover. Details>>
The recipes in this cookbook are reduced by none other than Miss Fannie Merritt Farmer “to level measurements to meet the needs of present-day demands” and includes homemade candy recipes by Mrs. Janet McKenzie Hill. 8 pages color lithographs, 1 black and white plate depicting a bird’s-eye view of the Walter Baker & Co. Mills in Dorchester, Mass. The book contains over 100 recipes and an essay by Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, the first woman to graduate from MIT. Orig. embossed, color pictoral wraps. Very Good. Details>>
With recipes like coffee soufflé or coffee chocolate cake, this book is as entertaining to read as to cook from. Starting with the author’s “Warning” (“The reader who expects to find directions for making a cup of coffee in the pages that follow will be sadly disappointed”), each recipe is paired with a phrase of exultation that makes this a interesting and informative read. Corners bumped, dust wrapper chipped, stained and torn. Interior clean. [BROWN 3165]. Orig. brown boards. Very good, in good dust wrapper. Hardcover. Details>>
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