Are Chinese Fortune Cookies Really From China?

Chinese fortune cookies.
Chinese fortune cookies.

Fortune cookies are sugary and crisp cookies that are made from vanilla, sugar, sesame seed oil, and flour with a small paper inside. The piece of paper usually has a vague prophecy or an aphorism. The message inside the fortune cookie might also be a list of lucky number or a Chinese phrase. A fortune cookie is not common in China, but it is a common dessert in the U.S. and other Western nations.

Are Chinese Fortune Cookies From China?

No, the fortune cookies are believed to be an American invention which was popularized in California during the twentieth century. They are believed to have originated from the cookies which the Japanese-immigrants in the U.S. made during the early twentieth or late nineteenth century. The rumors that these cookies originated from China are false. In 1992, Wonton food tried to introduce their fortune cookies in China but failed since the Chinese considered them to be too-American. These cookies were shipped to Hong Kong in 1989 and sold to people as genuine-American fortune cookies.

The Origin Of Fortune Cookies

During the nineteenth century, there was a cookie which resembled the fortune cookies, that was prepared in Japan. There is unique temple-tradition in Japan of giving random-fortunes which is referred to as omikuji. The Japanese cookies differed from fortune cookies in various ways. Japanese cookies are prepared using a darker dough, are a bit bigger, and their batter has miso and sesame instead of butter and vanilla. Both cookies have fortunes; however, the piece of paper in the Japanese cookie is wedged at the bend of the cookie and not inside. The Japanese cookie is referred to as tsujiura senbei and is still being sold in various parts of Japan. The Japanese cookies don’t have lottery numbers and are usually served with tea.

A modern version of the cookie was first served in San Francisco by Makoto Hagiwara at a Japanese tea-garden during the late early 1900s. Jung David claimed that he was the inventor of the fortune cookie in 1918. The court of Historical-Reviews of San Francisco tried to settle the case in 1983. The court determined that Hagiwara was the one who invented fortune cookies. Kito Seiichi, the founder of Fugetsu-do, also claims to have created this cookie. Seiichi says that he got the idea of a fortune cookie from the Omikuji from Japan. Kito claims to have sold them to the Chinese restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Manufacturers Of Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies were prepared by hand until the early twentieth century when Shunk Yee invented the cookies machine. Currently, there are over 3billion fortune cookies being produced annually on the planet with a considerable percentage of them being consumed in the United States. Wonton Food Inc is the biggest manufacturer of these cookies in the world. Wonton Food Inc produces more than 4.5million cookies every day. Other large producers of fortune cookies include Peking Noodle from Los Angeles and Baily International (Midwest). There are numerous smaller manufacturers including Sunrise Fortune Cookie (Philadelphia), Keefer Court Food (Minneapolis), and Tsue Chong Co. (Seattle).


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