Helvetica Cookies


cookiecuttersThe first official Canadian Friend of IBD Joan Lawrence knows us well. She clearly knows that we enjoy unique expressions of typography, especially three-dimensional type, and that we’re suckers for the typeface Helvetica. She also knows that we enjoy eating.

Joan sent us this link to a site featuring cookie cutters based on Helvetica, created by graphic designer and food-lover Beverly Hsu:


Needless to say, I must have these.

In the never-ending debate about the typeface, we have always leaned a little more towards “Helvetica is the ultimate achievement of typographic design” rather than “Helvetica is a corporate shill, emblematic of The Man holding us down.” But even the most vehement anti-Helvetica voices out there would have to soften at the smell of those fresh-baked sans serifs just out of the oven.

The beauty of this project is that Helvetica is the last typeface you’d associate with cookies. How many people on their way into the New York subway system look at the signage and think, “I sure am hungry for something sweet”? Sure, Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann might have been striving to create the perfect neutral typeface in 1957, but cover those uniform stroke widths and unadorned letterforms with pink frosting and rainbow jimmies, and you have performed the ultimate act of recontextualizing.

I realized (perhaps too late) that my interest in food shaped like specific typefaces is not normal. I showed the Helvetica cookie cutters to Friend of IBD Howard Aprill, who, like some people we know, talks about typography in his free time (Howard once started a conversation with me by asking, “So what do you have against Comic Sans?”). Instead, Howard, who is one of the top three nicest people on the planet and has never said an unkind word about anyone, doubled over in laughter for several minutes before catching his breath and saying, “Boy, you are a nerd.”

Related to the theme of design and food, Friend of IBD Kelly Farrell sent us a link to a story on NPR called “Rectangles Vs. Triangles: The Great Sandwich Debate.” We write in the book Interpretation By Design that odd numbers of columns in a composition are more pleasing visually than even numbers. This statement from the NPR article relates to that idea:

The number 3 has always been more popular than 4, says [emeritus professor of mathematics at Vermont Technical College Paul] Calter, who writes about the intersection of math, art, and culture. Three is mother, father, and child, he says. Three is the beginning, middle and end. Three is birth, life and death. Without three, there could not be a best — only a good and a better.

As soon as I get my Helvetica cookie cutters, I’ll have to find a way to cut those fresh-baked letterforms into triangles.