Art and Entertainment

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Fortune Cookies Come from … Japan

January 29, 2008 12:16 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The fortune cookie’s origins have been traced to 19th-century Japan. That could be one reason why they aren’t popular in China. 

30-Second Summary

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They are the quintessential Chinese snack, to everyone but the Chinese. Apparently, the fortune cookie comes from Japan.

So says Yasuko Nakamachi, who first encountered fortune cookies during a trip to the United States two decades ago. She later found that a similar cookie has been made near Kyoto, Japan, for generations.

The observation inspired further research: 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 International Herald Tribune reported.

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

One Web site is dedicated to collecting and posting odd fortunes,  such as, “The rubber bands are heading in the right direction.”

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

Headline Links: ‘Solving a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a cookie’

Related Links: Strange fortunes; fortune cookie recipe

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