Are Fortune Cookies Chinese?

Fortune cookies are a Chinese restaurant staple. But not many people that they are not a Chinese traditional dessert.

Fortune cookies were actually invented in the US, though there is some dispute as to who the original inventor was. What we do know is that they first came about in the late 1890’s/early 1900’s. San Francisco bakery Benkyodo made the cookies and supplied them to Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden, owned by Makoto Hagiwara.

Fortune_cookiesFugetsu-do Bakery in Los Angelos, owned by Seiichi Kito claims also to have been the inventor of the fortune cookie. He got the idea from cookies with a message inside that are sold at Japanese shrines. He then sold the cookies to many Chinese restaurants in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. He claims that this is the reason that fortune cookies are now associated with Chinese restaurants.

Fortune cookies used to be made by hand, but soon after they became popular a machine was invented that dramatically changed the fortune cookie industry. This led to mass production of the cookies, which led to a price drop and allowed restaurants to supply the cookies as a complimentary dessert.

Fortune cookies were primarily produced by Japanese-Americans, but this changed during the World War II. This is likely due to the internment camps that the Japanese-Americans were placed into. This gave Chinese manufacturers the opportunity to start creating fortune cookies.

What is a fortune cookie made of?

A fortune cookie is made of flour and sugar, with vanilla, and sesame seed oil. It is thin and crisp and folded into a crescent shape. They are served in Chinese restaurants and takeaways in western countries as a dessert .

Inside the cookie is a small slip of paper, with a ‘fortune’. Early ‘fortunes’ included aphorisms from Confucius or Aesop and biblical sayings. Later on, the ‘fortunes’ included lottery numbers and jokes.