Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

“Chinese” fortune cookies

Posted by thuicc on January 17, 2008

The China history blog “Frog in a Well” has a post on the history of the fortune cookie.

A grad student from Kanagawa University may have cracked the great riddle of Asian cuisine: the origin of the Fortune Cookie! As the NY Times reports, the original fortune cookies may have been produced by Kyoto-area confectioners in the late 1800s.1 The practice — and the distinctive iron grills used to make the sembei crackers, which are part of the historical puzzle — spread to Japanese-owned Chop Suey houses in San Francisco.2 From there, Chinese-owned restaurants began to offer them, and Chinese-owned bakeries supplied them.

(If you don’t know what a fortune cookie is, it’s a kind of cookie that Chinese restaurants in the U.S. give to patrons at the end of a meal. Inside the cookie is a piece of paper with a “fortune” written on it, like “You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment” or (my favorite) “Alas! The onion you are eating is someone else’s water lily.” There’s some discussion and some pictures of fortune cookies at Wikipedia.)

2 Responses to ““Chinese” fortune cookies”

  1. Rachel said

    The first time I saw fortune cookie was from the movie “Freaky Friday”(2003). Now I finally know the story behind it and why it is served in Chinese restaurants overseas.( I wonder how it actually tastes.) By the way “Alas! The onion you are eating is someone else’s water lily” is just hilarious!

  2. thuicc said

    Fortune cookies are a little sweet, but pretty bland, Rachel. Nothing like an onion, or a water lily… 😉

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