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 United States
Region or state Northeastern states
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. It is similar to a neenish tart, although neenish tarts are filled with a cream center, whereas a black-and-white cookie is not.

Notably, this style cookie is often seen as a particularly "New York" snack.[1]

Although bearing a superficial resemblance to black-and-white cookie, 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-halfs". In Germany they are called "Amerikaner" (American).[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.[6] The half-moon common in Upstate New York and New England 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. And with the cookie also being bigger than most half-moons.[7]

Half-moons most often come with a chocolate cake base, dark fudge icing on one side and sugary white frosting for the "half-moon" side. Hemstrought's Bakery in Utica, New York, one of the earliest known bakeries to make the black-and-white cookie, also made a vanilla cake base with fudge and white frosting, as well as full "vanilla moons" and "coconut moons," with either a chocolate or vanilla cake base. The original Hemstrought's half moons bakery closed their doors in 2011; they, however, still bake half-moons for local supermarkets, where they are still available.[8][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]

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
  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. ^ "What Makes a Good New York Black & White Cookie? Thoughts on the Best". 
  8. ^ Kim Howe. "Hemstrought Bakery’s Chocolate Half-Moon Cookie Recipe". Howe I Eat. 
  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.