This was one of WordPress’s prompts for a new post topic: “You’re now in charge of writing the messages in fortune cookies. Tell us our fortunes.” Now, usually, I’d come up with a topic on my own, but this was so interesting I had to use it. I also thought it might be interesting to discuss some of the history of the fortune cookie. So, without further ado…
DISCLAIMER: I did minimal research on this, so don’t be surprised if you look into the subject and your findings are different than mine.
Approximately three billion fortune cookies are made each year, mostly for consumption in America, and a great many of them by Wonton Food, Inc, the largest fortune cookie manufacturer in the world (Wikipedia). The fortune cookie was originally invented in California around the turn of the 20th century, though there’s some contention on the exact date and inventor. According to some sources, a Chinese immigrant named David Jung, the man who started the Hong Kong Noodle Company, invented them in 1918. One story goes that he, being concerned for the poor he saw in the streets around his shop, started passing out free cookies which contained inspirational verses written by the local Presbyterian minister (Chinese-Fortune-Cookie.com). According to another theory, fortune cookies are of Japanese origin. Apparently, a sort of cookie similar to the fortune cookie has been made in Kyoto, Japan since at least the 19th century. These are called tsujiura senbei and typically contain a fortune, or omikuji–a Japanese temple tradition (Wikipedia). It is possible that these cookies inspired a Japanese immigrant in San Francisco, Hagiwara Makoto, to create what we know today as the fortune cookie. Despite controversy over their origins, fortune cookies are clearly American. In fact, when they were introduced to Hong Kong in the 1990s, they were marketed as “Genuine American Fortune Cookies.”
So now, there’s a little bit of history. In my opinion, the sayings on fortune cookies are rather boring. How much more interesting would it be if you got a cookie that said, instead of something bland like “good fortune will smile upon you next week,” something more exciting? Following is a list of possibilities that I think every Chinese restaurant should consider.
“A mysterious stranger will disrupt your finances.”
“The sun will one day explode, but have heart and you will at least die feeling good about yourself.”
“Your dog will die tomorrow.”
“You will be visited by a mysterious Doctor with a blue box. Do not follow him.”
“One day soon, your home will go the way of Alderaan.”
“When the birds fly south, you will discover buried treasure.”
“Beware of dogs with tie-die sweaters.”
“Remember: the path to happiness is as short as a fingernail clipping.”
“Beware the mice. Remember your towel.”
“Turn left and save the universe.”
“When in doubt, obliviate.”
“When in doubt, C4.”
“Beware of exploring new places in a red shirt.”
….well, that just devolved into a bunch of random nerdy references. Cheerio! May your fortunes be ever exciting!