Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? Soft or crunchy, fresh-baked or store-bought, they’re among the most delicious foods on earth. There’s no shortage of packaged crunchy chocolate chip cookies at the supermarket, but some are definitely superior to others. To prove it, we taste-tested 11 of the most popular brands.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and the accidental origin of this American staple
It's National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, when we celebrate the gooey, melty, nourish-your-soul goodness of this American staple. © ShutterstockWhat better way to celebrate the day than to bake your own batch of chocolate perfection? But how do you go about it? A Google search for "chocolate chip cookie recipe" yields more than 2.2 million results, each boasting of being the "best ever." At times like this, it's always best to go to the source. The original recipe. The one that inspired imitators for more than 75 years. The one that was an accident.
While it may seem like chocolate chip cookie recipes have always been around, their history only dates back to the 1930s, and a woman named Ruth Wakefield, who ran a popular Whitman, Massachusetts, restaurant called the Toll House Inn. One day, Wakefield, an accomplished cook, decided to add broken pieces of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate to her sugar cookie recipe. It’s commonly believed that she expected the chocolate to melt and mix into the batter, but in reality she knew exactly how the cookies would turn out. The result was an instant success with her diners, and Nestlé provided her with a lifetime supply of chocolate in return for the rights to print her Toll House Cookie recipe on every package of chocolate chips.
While the standard recipe for chocolate chip cookies is (more or less) simple — just mix up a batter with flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate chips — the cookies you’ll find in the supermarket tend to be a lot more complicated. They need to be shelf-stable, so in most of them you’ll find stabilizers and preservatives; many formulas don’t even contain eggs or milk. When it comes to cookies, home-baked is always better, but there’s something about the packaged kind that brings out the kid in all of us.
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How many have you tried?
For our taste test, we tracked down 11 brands of crunchy chocolate chip cookies (no soft-baked like Entenmann's here): Chips Ahoy, Famous Amos, Keebler Chips Deluxe, Pepperidge Farm Nantucket, Trader Joe’s, Tate’s, Goodie Girl, Simple Mills, Enjoy Life, Back to Nature, and Whole Foods 365. Note that several varieties are vegan, gluten-free, or both. Our panel of 13 tasters sampled each one in a blind tasting, grading each on factors including taste, texture, and amount of chocolate chips per cookie. In the end, one brand was a clear champion.