Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Jews and Chocolate Chips

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day, not to be confused with National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, which falls annually on August 4th.

Legend maintains that chocolate chips, also known as chocolate morsels, were invented around 1938 by a woman, Ruth Wakefield, at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield purchased an historical Cape-Cod style home originally built in 1709, which had served as a stop for voyagers during colonial times. Patrons paid their road toll, changed horses, dined, and slept there. Like many great inventions, the legend claims that it was serendipitous: Ruth chopped up some chocolate and added it to the cookie dough, and soon noticed that the morsel of chocolate did not fully reduce into the dough. Another version claims Ms. Wakefield was given a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream, but felt it needed something else. She then chopped up pieces from a Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar into the cookie. The chocolate chip was born. Supposedly, soldiers from Massachusetts shared the delicious desserts with fellow GIs, all of whom requested of their loved ones stateside to send Toll House cookies. The Nestle Company contracted with Ruth Wakefield to include her chocolate chip cookie recipe on the packaging of their chocolate bars, in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. To this day, Nestle’s brand of chocolate chips are used to make “Toll House Cookies” after the venue where they were allegedly invented.

Chocolate Chips became so ubiquitous and desired, eventually the kosher community wanted non-dairy cookies, so they could be enjoyed with both dairy and meat meals. The pareve (neither dairy nor meat) Toll House cookie recipe substituted oil for butter and used Nestle non-dairy chocolate, so at least one group of its many fans came from the kosher community.

In mid-2012, a popular Trader Joe’s chocolate chip brand that was pareve was suddenly labeled as dairy. The kosher overseer, OK Laboratories, claimed that the new designation was not related to the ingredients or recipe, but resulted from cleaning the production lines. The OK maintained separate milk and pareve chocolate lines, but there was a hopper in the filling line (where the chocolate chips are bagged) that needed to be thoroughly cleaned each time the lines were changed from milk to pareve. Trader Joe’s, however, decided that it was not economically worthwhile to clean the hopper any longer, rendering all the chocolate produced on those lines as dairy.

Happy Chocolate Chip Day. Be thankful that some chocolate chips are still pareve, so no impediment exists to eating delicious chocolate chip cookies with either meat or dairy meals.

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