If you know much about Chinese and Japanese cultures and the differences therein, it won't surprise you that fortune cookies were invented by a Japanese-American. The simplicity and yet intrigue of the shape is very, very Japanese, as is even the texture and the mild flavor meant to accompany tea. Check out a real Chinese bakery; you will see nothing remotely resembling a fortune cookie. Fortune cookies were probably invented by a Japanese/Japanese-American person for the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco and quickly adapted by savvy Chinese restauranteurs. As far as I know, no one really knows who precisely invented it, though a descendant claims it was Baron Makoto Hagiwara. (Well, heck, he has a cool name, so why not.)

I have read several alternate explanations, mostly from Chinese-American fortune cookie companies, that attempt to link fortune cookies to moon cakes and secret messages of yore. While there is probably some sort of cultural heritage thing going on (as usual) via the Japan-China link, this explanation sounds like a spurious marketing ploy or a sort of retcon attempt at cultural imperialism of sorts. (Usually it's the other way around--Japan has been historically fond of claiming everything from Chinese festivals to foods as indigenous and inventing histories wholesale to back up the claims.)

Now, this isn't to say there's something wrong with serving FCs in a Chinese restaraunt. There's a long-standing fascination with any kind of fortune-telling device in Chinese culture, and the messages one reads on them (when not TOO cheesy as above) are often fairly typical of various Chinese oracular devices. Plus, they go very well with jasmine tea.


Otherwise known as "the fortune cookie program," this quote-generating utility has been a UNIX standard for just about as long as there has been a UNIX, and usually can be found as a part of every Linux distribution. It contains the wisdom of the ages, doled out in bite-size chunks whenever you log in, out, or otherwise run it.

Fortrash = F = forum

fortune cookie n.

[WAITS, via Unix; common] A random quote, item of trivia, joke, or maxim printed to the user's tty at login time or (less commonly) at logout time. Items from this lexicon have often been used as fortune cookies. See cookie file.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Make your own fortune cookies!

Ah, the tasty staple of any Chinese dish that would not make your meal complete if omitted. You can put any happy, depressing, funny, serious, personalized messages (or even a marriage proposal) in them that you want to. The recipe is not that hard.

However when working with fresh fortune cookies, speed is of the essence as they cool quickly due to their thickness.


  • 1 cup flour

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 to 5 drops almond extract
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons water
  • Butter for cookie sheet

    -Heat oven to 300°F.
    -Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
    -Add ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.
    -Line a cookie sheet with foil; butter foil, or spray with nonstick vegetable coating.
    -Drop level teaspoons (no more) of batter onto the cookie sheet, no more than 4 to a sheet.
    -Spread evenly to a 4 inch diameter.
    -Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown lightly.
    -Remove from the oven and immediately remove 1 cookie with a broad spatula.
    -Place a fortune in the center, fold in half and press back against edge of counter or bowl to form fortune cookie shape. (this must be done quickly!) Hold for about 15 seconds.
    -Continue with the rest of the cookies without delay, as they harden fairly rapidly. If the cookies become too cold, return to oven for a few minutes and continue.
    -Repeat process with remaining batter.

  • I love Chinese food, and Chinese restaurants, particularly in a group of people who all order something different and put everything in the middle so everyone gets a taste. But I don't like most Fortune Cookies.

    First of all, they're too sweet without the substance of a Frito. But my bigger beef is the fortunes themselves- they give you some lucky numbers (huh) a chinese word (good) and some cliched platitude. I have always wanted to replace them with my own fortune. I like real messages that will provoke a genuine response. Messages like Today is an auspicious day to sell everything and put the money into lottery tickets or Your wife is having an affair. Something uplifting, wholesome and filled with information even if it is probably a lie.

    So I've decided to put out a short list of appropriate fortunes I'd include in my Cynical Brand Fortune Cookies. If you have any suggestions, /msg me.

    Your life will be rich in creditors.

    The stars hint at a hostage crisis in your future

    Your husband doesn't know how to tell you about his syphilis

    This restaurant is where kittens go to die

    You have what it takes to win American Idol

    Your breasts will never stop sagging.

    Streaking a pro football game will lead you to true love.

    You are wearing too much clothing.

    Go ahead and buy it.

    Your meal was prepared according to the Five Second Rule.

    You will marry a thousandaire

    Your soul mugger is just around the corner.

    Tuesday is an auspicious day for pimping.

    Angelina Jolie will come to love you if only you stalk her with enough sincerity.

    If you want to lose weight get your recipes from Fear Factor

    Today is the last day of the rest of your life.

    The virtuous man worries not about bills. Shred yours.

    Your secret love will notice you if you yell "Shark!" in a crowded theater."

    You will be the subject of a country song.

    Someone in Nigeria wants to give you money

    The candidates you vote for lose.

    You will encounter a tall, dark prostitute.

    And you thought dogs didn't taste good. Now you know better.

    Creditors shall follow you all the days of your life.

    Your soul mate awaits you in prison.

    And you thought you'd never be able to eat cat.

    Share your underwear.

    Your diet is donut deficient

    The mad scientist in the alley wants your body.

    You will become more popular as the price of gas rises.

    Don't worry, she's on the pill.

    Don't worry, everyone gets cancer.

    Jerry Springer wants to put you on television.

    Consider an inexpensive vacation in rural Pakistan.

    Stalking you is a gas.

    Don't tell anyone but your waiter is with the FBI

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