History for the Rest of Us

Chocolate Chip Cookie History

Chocolate Chip Cookie History

May 14, 2013

In 1930, Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband Kenneth purchased the Toll House Inn in Whitman Massachusetts where they served traditional colonial meals. Ruth’s tradition was to serve homemade cookies that the travelers who stopped there could take home. While preparing chocolate cookies, she realized she didn’t have the baker’s chocolate she needed. She quickly chopped a Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar into small pieces and put the ‘chips’ into the batter thinking they would melt while baking. To her surprise, the ‘chips’ didn’t completely melt. She served them anyway. The cookies were a big success. She included the recipe in her cookbook ‘Toll House Tried and True Recipes’. Eventually she sold the recip to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate chips. There is a contrasting story from one-time head chef George Boucher, and an employee at the Inn. He indicates that the large Hobart mixer dislodged chocolate bars on the shelf which fell into the dough. He persuaded Mrs. Wakefield to use the dough anyway which led to the invention of the Chocolate Chip...

Mercuralia – Festival of Mercury

Mercuralia – Festival of Mercury

May 14, 2013

Mercuralia was a Roman celebration that was also known as the ‘Festival of Mercury’. Mercury, was a Roman messenger god whose attributes were mainly borrowed from the Greek god Hermes although there are myths regarding Mercury that are distinctly Roman. He was a god of trade, thieves, and travel. The name is closely related to merx, mercari, and merces which respectively mean merchandise, to trade, and wages. For good luck, on the Ides of May (May 15th) which was considered his birthday, the merchants of Rome would use laurel boughs to sprinkle their merchandise, their ships, and their heads with water from a fountain at Porta Capena known as aqua Mercurii. They also offered prayers to Mercury for forgiveness of past and future perjuries, for profit, and the continued ability to cheat customers! Related Stories: Neptunalia Ludi Apollinares Vestalia Matralia Portunalia Items from the Creating History...

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

May 4, 2013

Cinco de Mayo is observed mainly in the state of Puebla, Mexico in commemoration of the Mexican Army’s surprising victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican-American War, Mexican Civil War and the Reform Wars had left the Mexican Treasury near bankruptcy. President Benito Juarez suspended all foreign debt payments for two years on July 17, 1861. The Spanish, French, and British sent naval forces to demand reimbursement. Spain and Britain were able to negotiate a settlement and withdrew their forces. The French looking to expand their influence in the West, drove President Juarez and his government into retreat. However, as the French advanced towards Mexico City, their 8,000 man army was decisively defeated by a poorly equipped Mexican army of 4,000 near Puebla. The defeat was the first for a French army that had not been defeated in nearly 50 years, and gave the Mexicans a significant boost in morale. While the War would continue for a number of years, the Battle of Puebla would stand as inspiration for the Mexicans throughout the War. Eventually with the end of the Civil War in the United States, the Mexicans with U.S. assistance were able to expel the French. The Battle of Puebla represents the last time any country in the Americas has been invaded by a European military...