Fortune cookies are from China.
Don’t believe that!
A meal at a Chinese restaurant just wouldn’t seem complete without cracking open a fortune cookie to reveal your fortune on the paper slip inside. But don’t go looking for fortune cookies in China, because you won’t find any.
The fortune cookie’s origin can probably be traced back to a traditional Japanese cracker. This original version was made from sesame and miso batter instead of butter and vanilla, and the fortune was wedged in the bend rather than placed inside.
Several people lay claim to the modern fortune cookie, all from California. Japanese immigrant Makoto Hagiwara reportedly served the cookies at San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden in the early 1900s. Hong Kong Noodle Company founder David Jung claims he invented fortune cookies in Los Angeles in 1918. Finally, Seiichi Kito, founder of Fugetsu-do of Little Tokyo (also in Los Angeles) makes a similar claim.
Fortune cookies were made by hand until well into the 20th century. An automated machine that produced the cookies (with fortune inside) allowed the treats to drop in price and become common at Chinese restaurants all over the U.S. (and many other countries).
The printed fortunes were originally biblical passages or teachings of Confucius. Over time, the sayings evolved into the more trivial and lighthearted varieties common today, including lucky lottery numbers.
There are at least two recorded instances of fortune cookies forecasting winning lottery picks. This may not be as surprising when you learn that the largest fortune cookie manufacturer, Wonton Foods, produces over four million cookies per day!
Bonus Fact: Wonton Foods attempted to introduce fortune cookies their supposed native land of China in 1992 but the experiment failed as fortune cookies were considered “just too American!”