Black and white cookie

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Black-and-white cookie
Alternative names Half-and-half cookie
Type Biscuit
Course Dessert
Place of origin Germany
Region or state Bavaria
Main ingredients Shortbread, fondant
Cookbook: Black-and-white cookie  Media: Black-and-white cookie

A black-and-white cookie, or half-and-half cookie, is a soft, sponge-cake-like shortbread which is iced on one half with vanilla fondant and on the other half by chocolate fondant created in the Bavarian region of Germany.

Notably, this style of cookie is often seen as a particularly "New York" snack coming out of "Kleindeutschland," i.e., Little Germany, a German immigrant neighborhood situated in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.[1]

Although bearing a superficial resemblance to black-and-white cookies, half-moon cookies, popular in Central New York, are made to a significantly different recipe. The traditional half-moon cookie is a devil's food cake cookie with buttercream frosting, resulting in a cookie that is richer and moister than the black and white cookie. Half-moon cookies are now also available with a vanilla cookie base.[2]


Cookies of this style are collectively known as "black-and-white cookies" or "half-and-halves". In Germany they are called "Amerikaner" (Americans).[3] On October 19, 2008, Barack Obama dubbed them Unity Cookies at a deli in Hollywood, Florida.[4][5]

History and difference from half-moons[edit]

Box of Black and white cookies

The exact origin of the black-and-white cookie is unknown, but it is a variation of its predecessor, the half-moon, which was a traditional cookie created by the Kuchenläden (cake shops) in the Bavarian region of Germany.[6] The half-moon, common in Upstate New York and New England, is believed to be first created in the United States in the early 1920s by Hemstrought's Bakery in Utica, New York, inspired by the traditional German cookie. Post World War II, GI's brought them over to Germany, where they were referred to as Amerikaners. There, they tended to be sold with an all-vanilla glaze.[7] It is sometimes confused with the black-and-white cookie but is made with a different recipe. Nonetheless, while the two names are often used interchangeably, there are considerable differences between the two; most notably in the textures of the base and the icing, with black-and-whites having a drier, cookie-like base and fondant frosting. Black-and-white cookies are also generally bigger than most half-moons.[8]

Half-moons most often come with a chocolate cake base, dark fudge icing on one side and buttercream white frosting for the "half-moon" side. Hemstrought's Bakery also made a vanilla cake base with fudge and buttercream white frosting, as well as full "vanilla moons" , "coconut moons," and custom colors with either a chocolate or vanilla cake base. Hemstrought's Bakeries still bakes half-moons for their customers and local supermarkets.[9]

The typical New York City and Long Island black-and-whites have a vanilla cake base with fudge and white frosting.

In popular culture[edit]

Black-and-white cookies are mentioned twice on Seinfeld, set in New York City. In the episode "The Dinner Party", Jerry eats a black-and-white cookie while waiting in a bakery with Elaine. He uses the cookie as a metaphor for racial harmony and that people should "Look to the cookie!"[10] In the episode "The Understudy", the hospitalized Bette Midler asks Kramer for one after she is injured at the softball game, telling him, "If I don't get a black-and-white cookie, I'm not going to be very pleasant to be around!"[11]

Gary Dell'Abate (Babba Booey) of The Howard Stern Show is commonly teased for eating black and white cookies on the air by Sal Governale.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NYC’s 5 Best Black & White Cookies". CBS. January 30, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Iconic Food #7: Black & White Cookie". CBS News. March 12, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ The Black and White Cookie Meets the Amerikaner | Beyond Burgers and Bratwurst Archived September 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Clark, Lesley (21 October 2008). "Barack Obama and the black and white cookie". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Johnson, Sasha (21 October 2008). "Obama: McCain is 'running out of time' and 'making stuff up'". CNN. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Grimes, William (May 13, 1998). "'Look to the Cookie': An Ode in Black and White". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ "WW2 Black and White Cookie". Retrieved September 1, 2017. 
  8. ^ "What Makes a Good New York Black & White Cookie? Thoughts on the Best". 
  9. ^ "Happy Birthday Half Moon Cookies! An Upstate Tradition (But Which Side Do You Eat First?)". CNY News. 
  10. ^ "The Best Black and White Cookies? Half-Moons? Amerikaners?". 
  11. ^ Sims, David (July 21, 2011). "Seinfeld: "The Face Painter"/"The Understudy"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Babba Booey Cookie". Retrieved September 1, 2017.