Black-and-white cookie
Alternative namesHalf-and-half cookie

A black-and-white cookie, half-and-half cookie, or half-moon cookie is a round cookie iced or frosted on one half with vanilla and on the other with chocolate. In the German language they are called Amerikaner. There are regional differences: a black-and-white cookie is flat, has royal icing on a denser cake base, and is common in New York City, while a half-moon cookie is slightly dome-shaped, has frosting on a fluffier cake base, and is common in Central New York and Boston.[1][2][3] Often one side is frosted higher than the other. Black-and-white cookies may also be found with frosting instead of fondant.

The origin of the black-and-white cookie in New York City is commonly traced to Glaser's Bake Shop, founded in 1902 by Bavarian immigrants in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan.[note 1] The black-and-white cookie was among the original recipes used by the bakery.[4] Half-moon cookies, however, can be traced to Hemstrought's Bakery in Utica, New York, who started baking half-moons around 1925.[note 2][5][6] The relationship between the two origins is murky; it is likely that both recipes share a common German root, although the origin and name of Amerikaner in Germany is also unclear. Purported explanations include a corruption of the word Ammoniumhydrogencarbonat (ammonium bicarbonate, a leavening agent), or that the cookie was (re)introduced to Germany by American GIs in the 1950s.[7] German Amerikaner are often frosted entirely in white frosting.[8] In the former East Germany, due to anti-American sentiment, the name Ammonplätzchen (Ammonia cookies) was used.[9]

In popular culture

Box of Black and white cookies
Box of Black and white cookies

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, saying the chocolate and vanilla represent black and white people living together and if they mix together well on a cookie they can do the same in society, suggesting the answer to poor race relations is to "Look to the cookie!"[10]

Also in reference to racial harmony, Barack Obama dubbed them Unity Cookies when visiting a deli in Hollywood, Florida in 2008.[11][12]

See also

Half-moon cookies and black-&-white cookies in a grocery store in New Hartford, New York (near Utica). The half-moon cookies are significantly larger.
Half-moon cookies and black-&-white cookies in a grocery store in New Hartford, New York (near Utica). The half-moon cookies are significantly larger.


  1. ^ Not to be confused with the village of Yorkville near Utica in Central New York.
  2. ^ Hemstrought's began business in 1920, but does not appear to have baked half-moon cookies before 1925.


  1. ^ Sietsema, Robert (May 19, 2015). "New York in a Dozen Dishes". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 279–290. ISBN 9780544453630.
  2. ^ "The History of the Half Moon / Black and White Cookie". Driving Inertia. February 19, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  3. ^ "Halfmoon Cookies". Saveur. October 13, 2000. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  4. ^ Sietsema, Robert (June 2, 2014). "The Black-and-White Cookie's Curious History". Eater NY.
  5. ^ D'imperio, Chuck (April 14, 2015). A Taste of Upstate New York: The People and the Stories Behind 40 Food Favorites. Syracuse University Press. pp. 69–72. ISBN 9780815653233.
  6. ^ "Utica Bakery Home to the Original Halfmoon Cookies Celebrates 100 Years". Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Honnen, Peter (2008). Alles Kokolores? Wörter und Wortgeschichten aus dem Rheinland. Cologne: Greven Verlag. p. 10. ISBN 978-3-7743-0418-5.
  8. ^ "WW2 Black and White Cookie". Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Martin, Ahrends (1986). Trabbi, Telespargel und Tränenpavillon. Das Wörterbuch der DDR-Sprache. Munich: Heyne. p. 18. ISBN 978-3-4530-2357-4..
  10. ^ Roberts, Sam (2016). A History of New York in 101 Objects. Simon and Schuster. p. 137. ISBN 9781476728797.
  11. ^ Clark, Lesley (October 21, 2008). "Barack Obama and the black and white cookie". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  12. ^ Johnson, Sasha (October 21, 2008). "Obama: McCain is 'running out of time' and 'making stuff up'". CNN. Retrieved May 30, 2013.