A plate with Chompie's black and white cookie

History of the Black and White Cookie

“Look to the cookie, Elaine. Look to the cookie.” uttered some comedian off some historic 90’s sitcom. When it comes to the black and white cookie, he’s right though. There’s nothing quite like eating a fresh chocolate and vanilla cookie you picked up at your favorite bakery. It’s a quintessential New York treat and one that’s gone down in the history books as one of the best desserts the city has to offer. But, where does it come from and why is it so popular today?

There’s More to the Black and White Cookie Than NYC

Melissa Clark, a food columnist at the New York Times, states that these cookies aren’t just a New York staple, they’re a major part of Jewish culture. According to her, “Black-and-whites have been an entrenched part of the very robust Jewish cookie scene in New York City for a century.”

However, these cookies have a long-debated history about their creation. Specifically, is it really a cookie?

According to Molly O’Neill, black and white cookies are “broken promises” in that they’re floury cakes baked in a cookie shape. Essentially, they’re “drop cakes” because the batter resembles what you’d find in the batter of a cupcake, with a little extra dough so it does not run all over the place.

Nonetheless, people love them and flock to their nearest bakery for a bite of its vanilla, chocolatey goodness.

The Origins of the Black and White Cookie

The cookie is believed to have been created by Glaser’s Bake Shop, which was opened in 1902 by Bavarian immigrants in Manhattan. Many others believe the cookie began as “half-moon” cookies that were served at Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, New York. While it’s hard to tell where these cookies’ roots lie, each story shares one common element: they come from German food traditions.

While these cookies seemingly have been around forever, it wasn’t until the 1940s and 1950s they became popular. During and after WWII, American soldiers reintroduced the cookie to Germany, which inspired the name “Amerikaner”. The term is actually derived from the shape of Brodie helmets worn by U.S. soldiers during the World Wars.

Other Names for the Black and White Cookie

While Chompie’s and many people around the world call them black and white cookies, it does have other names. In upstate New York and New England, it’s commonly referred to as “half-moons.” while the Midwest often calls them “harlequins”. Germany also calls these treats “Amerikaner”.

What Are These Cookies Made of?

While there are many ways to make a black and white cookie, the most common way is this:

  • Butter (or shortening)
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Flour (both cake and all-purpose)
  • Sometimes milk
  • Vanilla
  • Lemon extracts
  • Sometimes orange
  • Frosting confectioner sugar
  • Water
  • Bitter chocolate
  • And some corn syrup

Chompie’s Serves The Best NYC Desserts in Arizona

Craving something sweet but can’t fly out to New York City? Not a problem. Chompie’s bakery serves some of the best desserts you probably only ever expected to find in The Big Apple. We have everything from black and whites, rugelach, bowties, cannolis, eclairs, and so much more. We also serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner items if you’re craving something savory. Visit our locations page and stop by one of our restaurants today!