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#44 Fortune Cookies

Posted March 23rd, 2008 by Peter · 21 Comments

“Fortune Cookie: A Chinese-American cookie into which has been folded a printed message predicting one’s fortune.” If you’ve ever wondered why an asian person gives you that hug or profound food for thought, look no further. They’ve probably been eating at Lucky’s Chinese.

When people go to “fast food” type restaurants such as Panda Express or Pickup Stix, they are greeted by a familiar sight: the Fortune Cookie. When full-blooded asians go to these restaurants, they, besides scoffing at the silly adornments, are appalled by the abomination. Why? It’s simply not asian. After extensive research, both Chinese and American food historians agree that the “fortune cookie” is in fact an American invention. That, however, doesn’t stop americanized asians from enjoying the fortune that could lie in their immediate futures because of a very obscure but accurate connection. Combining a random horoscopic message with a funny fact or proverb, this pleasant low-calorie dessert has cracked its way into the hearts of people everywhere. There are three main categories of messages that asians can receive from their fortune cookies:

1. Enlightening: These messages may tell asians winning lottery numbers or how to say “watermelon” in Chinese. They may also present obscure truths about obscure people from obscure lands that have obscure names. These fortune cookies, however, continue to expand an asian’s vocabulary and their knowledge of “King Fifth the Twelth twice removed from the throne of Canterbury.” Examples of enlightening fortune cookie messages may be: obvious, like “A warm smile is testimony of a generous nature. or thought-provoking: If you would be loved, love and be lovable.” When asians receive these messages, they may re-think their current situations in life and be (next category) in the lives of people they know.

2. Inspiring: Have you ever wondered why asians are the best people to consult after a hard day at work? Asians aren’t born innately knowing Hammurabi’s Code, nor do they always know the right things to say. That’s where fortune cookies come into play. Asians love helping others by nature, no matter how gruesome their actions on the freeway. Asians are themselves inspired by some of the messages they receive in fortune cookies. That is why they, in turn, will pay them forward to their friends, family, and co-workers. Examples of inspiring messages include: The smart thing is to prepare for the unexpected.” and “A scholars ink lasts longer than a martyrs blood.” Asians, for this reason, will tell you that “The smart thing is to prepare for the unexpected.


3. Or just plain frightening: These messages will turn even jesterly Jackie Chan into the ill-fated Bruce Lee (comedy to tragedy). They can also, on the other hand, be the most comical ones out there (if you don’t take them too seriously). Asians always live on cloud nine, so it takes one of these reminders to bring them one cloud closer to earth. Of the more comical messages is, “Those weren’t chicken or chocolate ice cream you just ate.” Sometimes, the cookies may even hold a deeper and eerie meaning, as one of our members reports receiving, “You think it’s a secret, but it has never been one..” and the more frightening, What you perceive as an innocent infatuation, the law will perceive as punishable up to 15 years in federal prison,” in succession. These messages are very hard to come by, and are usually found in more “americanized” restaurants that believe that using broken english and a wise asian accent are unimportant (even though they are).

Besides from their obvious qualities, fortune cookies may be equivalent of fortune tellers to asians, as they both are predictors of ensuing fortune and success. On a more obscure note, fortune cookies are also like asian immigrants.

“At the beginning of this century, San Francisco’s Chinatown was a ghetto, rife with the problems that plague any poor neighborhood. But by the 1930s, the neighborhood’s exotic image was being used to attract tourists. During that marketing effort, a restaurant created the fortune cookie for visitors who expected a dessert course that Chinese cuisine largely lacks.” – Fortune Cookies: No Ancient Chinese Secret

The fortune cookie’s image was developed slowly by viral marketing, much like many asians had to climb their respective social ladders to achieve what they have today. They endured the rockin’ twenties and the Great Depression. They single-handedly transformed China Town, San Francisco into what it is today. Asians love knowledge, motivation, and humor. They also love people and things that will ensure them brighter futures. The Fortune Cookie is all those things and more.

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Tags: Activities · Comedy · Culture · Customs · Food & Beverage · History · People · Products · Tidbits

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Peter // Mar 23, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Hey guys! Have a fortune cookie message you want to share? Post your’s here in the comments section. Mine is: “You’ll be hungry again later. Why not order some takeout?”


  • 2 Peter // Mar 23, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Did you know that fortune cookies are smarter than police officers too?

  • 3 YASPY Chick // Mar 24, 2008 at 4:14 am

    You’ll never find fortune cookies at “real” Chinese restaurants in Toronto or Vancouver. Even some of the less authentic ones will only give them out for takeout only.

  • 4 matt // Mar 24, 2008 at 9:44 am

    there is no way you’re Asian. fortune cookies? ….

  • 5 Justin // Mar 25, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Hi Matt, check out the post once more…it actually talks about how asians liking fortune cookies as a myth – that it is indeed “an American invention”. Thanks for the comments! =)

  • 6 Christine // Mar 27, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    ‘fortune cookie” is in fact an American invention. That, however, doesn’t stop americanized asians from enjoying the fortune that could lie in their immediate futures because of a very obscure but accurate connection

    Hey Justin,

    You should have kept reading, because it does, in fact, say that Asian (Americanized) cannot help but like them. Being an Americanized Asian I really don’t think this is true, I still believe that Americanized Asians want to keep their palates culturally pure. I have only seen non-asians enjoy fourtune cookies.

  • 7 Justin // Mar 27, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    just from my observations of my friends (americanized asians), i don’t think it’s a big deal for them if fortune cookies are an american invention or not…it’s just fun for them to read the notes…sometimes adding “in bed” at the end or other things etc…however, i do see my grandparents and relatives just eating the cookies and giving the paper away because they don’t understand what’s written on it: my friends and I in contrast get excited to open fortune cookies: check out this video

  • 8 Lisa // Mar 30, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    You MUST be at LEAST a fifth gen Asian American. I don’t remember getting one fortune cookie EVER in Chinatown NYC and i grew up there. I bet you speak for ALL “Asians” when you say they love crab rangoon, too.

  • 9 Justin // Mar 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    nope first gen asian here. =) and all my friends are 1st or 2nd gen…we just dont intentially boycott the cookie if it’s free

  • 10 asian brian // Jul 11, 2008 at 11:56 am

    LOL.. that wasnt chicken

  • 11 josie // Jul 16, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    “….we just dont intentially boycott the cookie if it’s free”

    lol, that’s another Asian trait.

  • 12 Brandi // Mar 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    most memorable real fortune found

    “Sometimes in life there are no fortunes”


  • 13 Crazy_Asian // Mar 16, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    you know that cookie was really an American idea… -_-” so like i really don’t like them…

  • 14 haha // Sep 2, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    *frowns* does it really matter if the fortune cookie is an american idea or not? it’s a cookie…it’s good and (haha) free! also, reading those “fortunes” are entertaining…

  • 15 Fortune Cookie Reader // Sep 9, 2009 at 12:52 am

    I never eat the cookie. I open them for the fortune out of amusement. sometimes I wonder why restaurants don’t just give you the paper with the fortune. recently I realized that the concept is like that of those eggs that you get from machines. you hardly care about the outside, because it’s the inside that counts. you never know if you’ll get another pikachu or the rare *insert random pokemon name here*. (strange example, but it was all I could think of.) without the cookie, there’s no \excitement\ out of opening something to get what’s on the inside. but seriously, why can’t they think of a way to put those fortunes inside an almond cookie instead?

  • 16 Peter // Nov 15, 2009 at 2:34 am

    Yeah, I don’t like the taste of those cookies. Otherwise, I’d eat them. As it is, I usually give them back, or give them away.

  • 17 Nana // Jul 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I once got a fortune cookie that said “Food is sex.” No lie ;P

  • 18 huu // Jul 13, 2010 at 9:41 pm


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  • 20 Fil-Am sporting news // Jan 18, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Cookies also need sleep lol

  • 21 Sooyeun // Aug 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I, whole-heartedly, enjoy Fortune Cookies. I think they’re delicious and it doesn’t matter if it’s not authentic or not? I’ve been to many “authentic” Asian restaurants with Asian owners and they serve Fortune Cookies :)

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