Ever since their appearances on New York City based sitcoms “Sex and the City” and “Seinfeld,” black and white cookies have been a quintessential part of NYC cuisine. Whether you know them as “yin-yangs” or “half-and-halfs,” these cookies are a popular favorite amongst Columbia students for their soft shortbread and sweet two-toned fondant. Alison Herman and Sam Schipani of 2Girls1Snack fame went on a journey to “Look to the cookie!” and to find the best black and white delight in the area.
Nussbaum & Wu $1.25 for a mini
Our first stop was Nussbaum & Wu for their “World Famous Black and White Cookies.” There is no dearth of options at this Columbia-favorite bakery, everything from solid black or white cookies in place of the classic yin-yang style to Giants-themed blue and white cookies in celebration of the Super Bowl. The mini cookie is more than enough to satisfy one peckish snacker, but there are larger options for hungrier cookie aficionados. The delightfully thick frosting forms a shell around the perfectly spongy cake and gives these cookies the satisfying variation in texture characteristic of this type of black and white cookies. The chocolate half is incredibly fudgy, perhaps a little too sweet for the cookie overall. In light of this sugary shortcoming, the Nussbaum & Wu black and white cookie may not be the best in the world, but it is certainly a top contender in Morningside Heights.
Westside Market $6.00 for a large bag of mini-cookies
Open 24 hours and representing the end of the known universe for many Columbians, Westside Market was the logical next stop on our search. Westside is certainly a better deal than Nussbaum, charging $6.00 for a pack of about fifteen cookies. But, while delicious, Westside’s black and white treats have very different strengths and weaknesses from Nussbaum’s: the frosting is much thinner and prone to melting, and the cookie itself is denser and spongier. The chocolate and vanilla halves of the frosting are less distinct, a characteristic that will upset some purists but give some late-night snackers a reason to enjoy the whole cookie rather than just half. All in all, Westside and Nussbaum drew just about even—the winner is simply a matter of preference.
Crumbs Bakery $3.00 for one cookie
Our first unambiguously unappealing option presented itself at Crumbs, a location which also fared poorly in our comparison of neighborhood hot chocolates. Crumbs’ cookie is massive, reaching almost cupcake-like thickness at its center, yet quantity failed to make up for quality in a cookie that was both hard to eat and, ultimately, overpriced and bland. The frosting, rather than flavorful and fudgy, was overly sweet and not nearly dense enough, recalling the icing on a supermarket-issue birthday cake; the cookie itself was burnt and hardened on the edges and light and tasteless in the center. 2Girls left the bakery with a sugar rush from eating a cookie the size of a Big Mac and hungry for a better cookie to finish off our search.
Meredith’s Bread $2.50 for one cookie
Available only on Thursdays and Sundays, Meredith’s black and white cookie is slightly more inconvenient to get to than Nussbaum or Westside, but then again, the best things in life are never easy. Led to Meredith’s by the enthusiastic recommendations of other Bwog staffers, 2Girls declares their black and white cookie the Platonic ideal of the famed New York treat. The cookie is the only one of the bunch with flavor in its own right—a little bit vanilla, a little bit citrus—and the frosting recalls the hard shell and powerful chocolate flavor of Nussbaum & Wu. The only downside we could think of was that the vanilla frosting was a little bit on the bland side, but we were too sugar-high from eating five cookies in a day to notice.