Fortune Cookies: How did They Get to Be a Chinese Dining Staple?

Dec 12, 2017 08:02 AM EST | By Staff Reporter

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A trip to a Chinese restaurant is never complete without breaking open a fortune cookie. This crisp cookie with a distinctively unique form always gets people excited because of the message that it reveals, which is supposedly about one's fate. The message may come in the form of a Chinese word or phrase with English translation, a wise saying, or a list of lucky numbers which you can use to bet on the lottery.

Oftentimes, fortune cookies are not even eaten. Once the message is read, the cookie is left on the plate. Fortune cookies are not bad-tasting at all, although they are made from a few simple ingredients such as flour, sugar, and oil and added flavoring like vanilla or almond, so there's not much to look forward to when it comes to taste either. This is probably because the main purpose of this cookie is to deliver a message and not really to satisfy the taste buds.

Fortune Cookies Might Have Come from California

While fortune cookies are a staple in most - if not all - Chinese restaurants in the United States, they are rarely served in restaurants in China. Quite ironically, fortune cookies did not even originate from China. As to who was behind the invention of the fortune cookie, this is still uncertain. There are those who claim that it was an immigrant from Japan by the name of Makoto Hagiwara ​who moved to San Francisco, California who first made fortune cookies in the late 1890s or early 1900s and offered these as a way of thanking those who visited the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, which was designed by him.

On the other hand, there are those who claim that the fortune cookie was first made in 1918 by David Jung, a Chinese who migrated to Los Angeles, California and founded the Hong Kong Noodle Company. According to them, Jung baked cookies in which were placed a small piece of paper that had Bible verses written on them. He gave them to people who were homeless and living on the streets near his shop, so goes the legend.

Fortune Telling Through a Cookie

To answer the big question as to whether a fortune cookie does predict one's future, the answer, unfortunately, is no. Fortune cookies are produced in factories and given out randomly and in case the message you receive does come true, then this is merely a coincidence. That is not the case with all fortune telling methods, though. For a genuine fortune telling experience, seek the help of psychic readers who can give tarot readings. A tarot reading is a psychic reading that makes use of tarot decks which consist of a total of 78 cards, with each tarot card having a unique meaning. The tarot reader shuffles all the cards, cuts the deck, and lays the cards into a spread. The cards in your spread are then interpreted in relation to your question.

The Japanese' Claim to Fortune Cookies

In Japan, it is believed that fortune cookies originated in Kyoto during the 1900s. Although the cookies, called tsujiura senbei, were bigger and darker in color compared to the fortune cookies that are being served nowadays, these cookies also contain the small piece of paper that reveals one's fortune.

Although fortune cookies do not really predict one's future, we can all agree that getting a fortune cookie and cracking it open is always a cool thing to do. It is also a way to spread inspiration to people, as these cookies almost always contain positive messages.

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