Today is National Fortune Cookie Day, so I picked up a bag of the Umeya brand cookies at my local supermarket and plan to serve them with some vanilla ice cream tonight. That’s what I call an Easy dessert. This brand doesn’t have a series of numbers printed on the backs of the fortunes, but most types do. Whenever my family eats in a Chinese restaurant during a week when the state lotto is high we go directly to the local QT to buy tickets using the numbers on the fortunes. Alas, no “joss” so far.
In another family tradition I pass a big bowl of fortune cookies around on New Years Eve and have everyone present read their fortunes aloud, usually with a phrase tacked onto the end, like “in your own mind.” So a fortune reading, “You are capable, competent, creative, and careful” would become “You are capable, competent, creative, and careful in your own mind.” One friend likes to make the add-on phrase a little spicier. Use your imagination on that one.
I’ve always associated fortune cookies with Chinese food, so I was surprised to learn that they are an American creation and may actually be of Japanese origin. Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden is said to have served the first fortune cookies in the early 20th century. The cookies were purchased for the Garden by Makoto Hagiwara from a local Japanese bakery, Benkyodo. Another claimant to the title of first to serve fortune cookies is David Jung who owned Los Angeles based Hong Kong Noodle Company. It began producing the cookies in 1918.
Wherever they started they have caught on in a big way with more than 3 billion produced each year. The largest U.S. manufacturer of the prescient treats is Brooklyn’s Wonton Food, Inc.
But Fancy Fortune Cookies of Indianapolis, Indiana makes custom cookies to fit your needs, using a myriad of flavors, icings, and even personalized messages. They’ve had all kinds of requests for customization. More than one person has had an engagement ring inserted into one of their cookies to sweeten a marriage proposal. Guess Clothing even did a promotion with bar codes printed on their customized fortune cookie messages so customers could scan them for special discounts. Imagine the fun you could add to a special event or a child’s birthday party with specialized “fortunes.”
Do you have a fortune cookie anecdote you’d like to share? If so, please let us know in the comment section below.
And enjoy National Fortune Cookie Day!