Lifestyle, Stories

Cracking the origin of fortune cookies

Fortune cookies are thinly baked cookies with a small piece of paper inscribed with a fortune. It is usually being handed out as a dessert in Chinese restaurants and is being used to “attempt” to depict one’s luck and destiny. 

As Chinoys, we are all fully in favor of this delectable treat. But you’ll surely agree that the most exciting part about these cookies is cracking them open to see your fortune! The satisfaction from hearing that crispy crack, followed by its mysterious aphorism simply brings a thrilling experience anyone can have!

However, have you ever noticed that restaurants from China do not actually serve this dessert? It was found that only Chinese restaurants from Britain, Mexico, Italy, France, India, and the U.S., among others, are the only ones that serve these sweets. Some have claimed that David Jung, a Chinese immigrant from Los Angeles, California invented fortune cookies around 1918. He had reportedly been seeing numerous unfortunate individuals wandering near his place of business, Hong Kong Noodle Company. Thus, he invented these cookies to give it to them for free.

On the other hand, Yasuko Makamachi, a Japanese graduate student who studied Folkloristics and Cultural History, claimed that fortune cookies almost certainly came from Japan. She spent about 6 years learning the origin of fortune cookies through the means of browsing through old books and documents, visiting numerous historical sites, and conducting multiple interviews (Lee, 2008). 

One of the reasons why she strongly believes that fortune cookies originated from Japan is because of the fact that she had seen a great number of references in the making of cookies in Japan’s history. She had also claimed that a Japanese man had an illustration of the cookies back in 1878, years before these cookies were supposedly introduced in the U.S.

Now the real question is, if it had originally originated in Japan, how come it is considered as a Chinese delicacy? 

Nakamachi believes that Japanese immigrants who stayed in California opened up American-Chinese restaurants, therefore leading more people to believe that fortune cookies could be from China. 

Want to know more about Chinese delicacies and their interesting history? Check this out: “5 most popular Chinese dishes and their interesting history.”

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