The New York Cookies That Put Smiles on Everyone’s Faces

The woman behind the pop culture cookie phenomenon Funny Face Bakery, Sarah Silverman, dishes on her labor of love and laughs

| 26 Sep 2022 | 01:31

Although the cookies at Funny Face Bakery make people smile, some are so touching that they cause customers to tear up in appreciation. “I just remember one time someone started crying when they saw a cookie of their mom,” owner and New York City native Sarah Silverman said.

The sweet treats — which are enjoyed by everyone from locals to tourists to celebrities like Kris Jenner — are truly works of art. “A lot of people message us asking if they could frame the cookies, so not only do they eat them, they want to preserve them,” she continued.

Silverman opened her first bakery, then called Cupcake Market, in 2016. Two weeks before the launch date, a cookie with a face popped into her head and she thought the idea could bring in customers, so created sugar cookies decorated with the faces of the presidential candidates at the time.

“So I thought, ‘Ok, I’ll do Trump, Hillary and Bernie and it will just be an opening day thing,’” she explained. On her first day in business, she sold out of them and on the second day, clients continued to ask for them. That is how Funny Face Bakery, which now has two locations — one at the Seaport on Fulton and one in Noho on Lafayette — was born.

With her team of illustrators, Silverman also fulfills custom orders with faces of people, pets and even company logos. As for her future plans, she sees another one of her cookies becoming just as popular as the face ones. “We have a gooey chocolate chip cookie that people are obsessed with and slowly, slowly word is getting out about how amazing they are,” she said. “So I’m really hoping by a year or two, everybody knows Funny Face for our chocolate chip cookies as well.”

You went to Savannah College of Art and Design and dropped out. Why did you make that decision?

I dropped out my sophomore year. I kept changing my major and freshman year, beginning of sophomore year, there was a lot of partying; it was a lot of fun. And then all my friends started getting serious about their majors and were very passionate and I still was like, ‘Where’s the fun?’ And because I wasn’t passionate about my majors — I first majored in fashion, then moved over to screenwriting and it felt like I did not find my passion, I dropped out.

I saw the video where you said this cookie face just appeared in your head. Tell us about that moment.

It was literally two weeks before we opened up our cupcake bakery, originally, we were called Cupcake Market. And I was working nonstop, and I remember I finally had a day where I could do nothing after working so hard. So I remember being in my room being really lazy and literally a face on a cookie popped up into my head. And I feel like that’s when the best ideas come, not when you’re searching for it. So it sounded like a crazy idea, but I just thought it would be a great way to get customers in.

How did it change to making the face cookies a part of your business?

So first day, we sold out of all the face cookies. Second day we opened, customers were coming in asking for face cookies and I was like, ‘No, but we have these delicious cupcakes.’ And people just kept coming in and asking for the face cookies, no one was interested in the cupcakes.

You opened a second location on Lafayette in 2021.

Yeah, so my original bakery in the East Village we closed down after COVID. Then after that, we opened a store in the Seaport in 2020 which has been amazing. And then after that, we opened a store on Lafayette.

Take us into the cookie-making process. How long does it take to make one?

Normally we never do one, just because so much goes into it — the sketch, then making the colors, then cutting out the exact shape, then piping it — so we always do it in tens. So let’s see, a sketch takes usually an hour, making the colors usually takes an hour, piping takes an hour. For about 10 face cookies, it takes, with our whole team, I’d say around four and a half hours.

Who comes up with the ideas for the designs? You must hire artists because they’re very intricate.

Oh yeah, so I like to think of the bakery as kind of the same model as a fashion brand. So a team of us, we always have meetings — we talk about what’s popular right now, what’s in the press, what’s trending, what’s not. And then we give our ideas to our team of illustrators, and they illustrate the ideas. We go over which illustrations we like the most and then we make samples of them.

Which have been your most popular?

You know what’s really interesting — when I first started doing cookies, it was the celebrities, but now we’re kind of seeing funny cookies with a hint of dark sense of humor. Like we have a rainbow cookie that says, “Anxiety” in the middle and then we have a cookie that says, “Having a meltdown.” So that seems to be trending at the moment.

Which New York-inspired cookies are most popular? Don’t you have one with the Pizza Rat on it?

Our stable, popular cookies are always the New York cookies. We always sell out of the taxi cab, the I Heart New York shirt, the Pizza Rat, those are super popular because we have a lot of tourists come in.

I read that you don’t actually hear from the celebrities themselves, but their PR team contacts you. What is some memorable feedback you’ve gotten?

The Kardashians have been amazing to us. Kris Jenner has been our biggest supporter. She was actually our first biggest cookie order. She ordered a huge face cookie order for Kanye’s birthday before anybody else, so I really feel like she put us on the map. Every single big birthday party we’ve done. When they were promoting their Hulu TV show, we did a bunch of face cookies of all the sisters. And I remember one time, I gifted Kris a big thank you cookie order of all of her grandkids, so she posted it on Instagram and tagged us. And then the next day, she gave it to Kim and Kim posted us and tagged us. And I went on Instagram just thanking her. I was like, “I don’t know if you’ll see this, but thank you so much.” And she DMed me back. She’s so awesome.