Oct 25, 2012

Fortune Cookie Facts

The commonly held notion that they were invented in China typically comes from the fact that they are primarily served in American Chinese restaurants. However, you will not find fortune cookies in actual Chinese restaurants, nor will you find historical records of a similar food item in China.

The largest manufacturer of fortune cookies, Wonton Food, based in New York, even once tried to introduce fortune cookies to the Chinese in the late 1980s. After three years, they gave up, as they simply were not a popular food item in China.

The people often credited with inventing fortune cookies were Japanese immigrants to America. Fortune cookies were actually invented in Japan.

A researcher, Yasuko Nakamachi, encountered a fortune cookie-shaped cracker, called a Tsujiura Senbei, made by hand in a family bakery near a Shinto shrine outside of Kyoto, Japan. This cracker, not only looked like a fortune cookie, it also contained a fortune, called an “omikuji” (fortune slip), and was traditionally sold in shrines and temples.

Around 3 billion fortune cookies are consumed annually world-wide, with most consumed in the United States. Wonton Food produces around 4.5 million fortune cookies per day.

As an aside, Chop Suey, which translates to “break into many pieces,” is commonly believed to be a Chinese food invented in America. Not so. It was invented in Taishan, a district of Guangdong Province, China.