Art and Entertainment


Japan Credited With Fortune Cookie Creation

April 08, 2009 09:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The humble dessert has long been thought to be a Chinese contribution, but researchers contend that Japan deserves credit.

True Beginnings of Fortune Cookies

According to Yasuko Nakamachi, who first encountered fortune cookies during a trip to the United States two decades ago, the cookies originated in Japan. She later learned that a similar cookie has been made near Kyoto, Japan, for generations, reported The New York Times.

The observation inspired Nakamachi to research further: She spent the next six years combing archive materials to discover the fortune cookie's true beginnings.

Nakamachi brought to light Japanese drawings from 1878 showing the cookies being made employing a method still used in Japanese bakeries today. The drawings predate the appearance of the cookie in America by several decades. In addition, a number of Japanese-Americans from California have claimed that their families introduced and promoted the cookies in the United States, The New York Times reported.
Today, there are about 40 factories where fortune cookies are produced in the U.S., including New York City-based Wonton Foods. Bonnie Tsui of described the streamlined, modern production process, and reported in 2007 that Wonton Foods receives dozens of inquiries a week from people who want to write fortunes, evidence of the cookie's enduring popularity, regardless of its origins.

Background: Good, bad and strange fortunes

The cookies' renown is such that they have even been credited with helping people win the lottery, The Washington Post reported. On the other hand, some of the more depressing fortunes have led to customer complaints.

A spate of negative fortunes appeared in restaurants in 2007 after customers asked a manufacturer for more predictions and fewer "vague sayings." These new fortunes included: "Perhaps you've been focusing too much on yourself" and "Today is a disastrous day. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," reported The New York Times.

There is even a Web site dedicated to collecting and posting odd fortunes, such as: "The rubber bands are heading in the right direction."

Related Topic: Baking fortune cookies at home

Fortune cookies can be made in your home kitchen, although folding the pastry takes some practice. The ingredients are readily available in China, Japan and the United States.

Reference: Baking Web Guide


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