The United States of Desserts: The Black and White Cookie

Photo by Matt Lehrer
Black and White Cookie

In this series, we examine the history and origins of famous sweets, confections and desserts associated with American states.

Found at nearly every bakery, convenience store, and confectioner in the five boroughs, the black and white cookie is probably the baked good most synonymous with New York City besides the cheesecake.

Although the black and white cookie is generally associated with New York (city), its history is intertwined with another state treat, the half-moon cookie, which originated in Utica. The traditional half-moon cookie supposedly differs from the black and white cookie with regards to the former's base. But all the internet sources I found that made this claim failed to follow up with how exactly one differentiates the cookies' bases.

Oh well. Let it be understood at least the the black and white cookie can be generally defined by the following criteria:

1. A soft cakey vanilla base

2. An exterior circular surface frosting with 50% fudge icing, 50% white icing

3. Cellophane wrapping (usually)

The black and white cookie was forever immortalized in pop culture in season 5 episode 14 of Seinfeld. While waiting in an interminably long line with Elaine for a cinnamon bobka, Jerry snacks on a black-and-white cookie, then muses on its capacity to serve as a material symbol of a peaceful, pleasant racial co-existence.

If you're not planning a trip to the Big Apple anytime soon, you try your hand at making your own batch of black and white cookies using this recipe.

A few places in Houston, notably Michael's Cookie Jar, Katz's, and Three Brothers also sell black and white cookies.
We've tested the latter two but go try all three and decide for yourself.

Location Info

Three Brothers Bakery

4036 S. Braeswood Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: General

Michael's Cookie Jar

5330 Weslayan St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Katz's Deli and Bar

616 Westheimer St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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I'm a Utica native who has traveled all over the country and world. The half moon "cookie" foundation is more like a cake and the icing is more of a frosting. It's much heartier but somehow lighter than the black and white cookie. I have had both and much prefer the half moon of Utica than the black and white cookie. In fact, the black and white is not very good to me. I always find the half moon much fresher and moist as well.

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