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The Cookie Artist

Artist Jasmine Cho’s cookie portraits honor Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
A woman leans over a cookie sheet and looks at a portrait as she uses a brush to paint a face on a cookie.
Courtesy of Jasmine Cho
Artist and baker Jasmine Cho paints a famous face on a cookie.

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is all about celebrating the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Artist Jasmine Cho honors these achievements all year long—with cookies.

Cho, who owns a bakery called Butter and Joy, bakes up batches of cookies and then decorates them with the faces of admirable Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Her portrait subjects include actor Daniel Dae Kim, civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs, and Olympic diver Sammy Lee.

Cho, who is Korean American, says she didn’t see many Asian Americans on TV shows or in books when she was growing up. Painting faces on the cookies she sells is her way of spreading knowledge about the amazing things the AAPI community has done. Why cookies? Because cookies make people happy.

Three cookies feature the faces of Hari Kondabolu, Anna May Wong, and Patsy Mink.
Courtesy of Jasmine Cho

 Jasmine Cho painted the faces of comedian Hari Kondabolu, U.S. representative Patsy Mink, and actress Anna May Wong on these cookies.

“Cookies, I’ve always said, are the perfect platform for education, activism, and healing,” Cho told the Associated Press.

Cho says it takes her between four and six hours to make each new cookie portrait. She starts by drawing the person’s face on paper. Then she bakes a cookie in the shape of the person’s head and duplicates her drawing in icing. Cho’s art is temporary—it lasts only until someone gobbles it up. But each cookie is an opportunity to educate the public about AAPI culture and history.

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Check It Out!

Cover of Role Models Who Look Like Me featuring a portrait of snowboarder Chloe Kim next to a photo of Jasmine Cho.
© Yummyholic, Courtesy of Jasmine Cho; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

In 2019, Jasmine Cho wrote a book called Role Models Who Look Like Me: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Made History. Featuring Cho’s illustrations, the book celebrates Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who aren’t always included in school textbooks.

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Did You Know?

A dozen is another way to express the number 12. But the expression “baker’s dozen” means 13. Why? In the past, bakers would be punished if they were found to be cheating their customers. To avoid this, they started throwing one extra item into each order!

A baker puts bread into a box as a trio of knights say “No cheating.”
© Macrovector Art, Ernest Akayeu, Olga Kurbatova/Dreamstime.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Celebrating Community

Cover of The Door Is Open featuring five children and a portrait of Hena Khan.
© Hachette Book Group; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

The Door Is Open is a new book of short stories that invites you to get to know some of the middle schoolers of Maple Grove, a fictional town in New Jersey. The kids in the stories have different hopes and dreams, from winning a spelling bee to getting to know a crush. But what unites them is the town’s community center, a favorite gathering place. The center isn’t just a building. For the kids, who are all South Asian American, it’s a place where they feel welcome, especially when they experience racism.

Each of the book’s 11 stories is by a different author of South Asian descent and edited by Hena Khan (shown above). Each story focuses on a different character, though sometimes characters appear in each other’s stories. As you read story after story, you’ll discover what makes the community center so special for each kid—and why the kids decide to work together when they find out there are plans to shut it down.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

© LeoPatrizi—E+/Getty Images, © Ashwin Kharidehal Abhirama, Xin Hua, Belnieman, Goncalo Ferreira, Wong Sze Yuen, Godsandkings, Imtmphoto, Mr. Namart Pieamsuwan/Dreamstime.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. You can read more about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at Britannica!
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noun

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: a very sweet food
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