The cookie derives its name from the fact that the maxim inside is meant to be a luck charm of sorts. The maxims in the cookies have been said to foretell of one’s personal future fortune and so the cookies ended up being called fortune cookies. Although is this was the main idea upon invention of the cookies, it is not so now. Now, the cookies are filled with words that are nonsensical, more often than not; making the snack lose its original allure.
Country of origin and Usage
Thought to be a Chinese invention and even served mainly in Chinese restaurants, the fortune cookie is in fact a creation of the Americans. Actually quite paradoxically, it is very near impossible to find a Chinese fortune cookie in china. On the inventor of this cookie though, there is some controversy on whether he was Japanese or Chinese.
One story links the invention to David Jung claiming he invented the fortune cookie in 1918. How this came to be is that the man owned a shop in Los Angeles and every day, he would see the poor right outside his shop looking frail and hopeless. Mr. Jung then came up with the idea on inventing a cookie in which he would place an inspirational quote and pass the cookies on to the street beggars. The initial cookies therefore contained bible scriptures, written for him by a local parish minister.
Another explanatory attempt links the invention to Makoto Hawigara if San Francisco. His story states that Mr. Hawigara was a gardener fired unfairly from his jib by a n employer who was discriminative against Japanese. In 1914, he came up with the ides of the fortune cookie as a way of thanking friends and family members who offered him support during this time when he was unemployed. Later on, the cookies came to attract the world’s attention after being displayed as a world food fair.
The fortune cookies are mainly consumed as desserts in Chinese restaurants located in America. It is said that this was done so that Americans may enjoy the familiarity of a dessert, seeing as Chinese do not have desserts in their cuisine. However, the treat could also be used to pass on a dear message to a loved one; in which instance you have the cookie custom made specifically with the exact message in mind.
Sample Fortune Cookie Recipe
• one cup of multipurpose flour
• Three Quarter cup white sugar
• 3 egg whites
• Half cup butter, melted and cooled
• Quarter tablespoonful vanilla extract
• Quarter tablespoonful almond extract
• 2 tablespoonfuls of water
1. Oven has to be preheated to 375⁰F.
2. Baking sheets are then greased lightly or lined with parchment paper
3. Have the pieces of paper with fortunes already prepared.
4. Set electric mixer at high speed, whip the egg whites and sugar together until frothy
5. Reduce speed to low then add melted butter, almond extract, vanilla extract, flour and water. Add each ingredient one by one, stirring well with each addition.
6. Mix very well to a heavy but smooth consistency
7. Scoop spoonfuls of the batter on to the baking sheets, remembering that the fortune cookies will spread
8. Bake for around 8 minutes or until the edges begin to tan/brown
9. Fast, remove them one at a time, place the message in the middle and fold in half into a semi-circle.
10. Fold the edges of the half together, to achieve a horse-shoe shape. There is a possibility that the fortune cookies might spring open therefore place in a tin to allow setting as they cool.
Fortune Cookies: Interesting Fun Facts
a) Perhaps stretching the fortune cookies fad a tad too far, there is a fortune cookie toilet paper in Greece and Italy; very popular amongst college students. What happens is that words appear on the toilet paper when it is wetted.
b) What we have come to commonly and fondly referred to as Chinese fortune cookies might as well be called Chinese rejects. Wonton, a popular company tried to introduce fortune cookies to the Chinese market in 1992 but had to draw out following a lack of market.
c) Previously, up until the period after World War II, the fortune cookies were known as fortune teacakes perhaps because back then they were a popular accompaniment for tea or coffee.
d) In Japan, some fortune cookies actually bear a negative message. If one gets such, the custom of the land says you should tie the fortune to a pine tree to prevent the ill-fortune from following you.
e) There was actually a court trial held to determine whether the fortune cookie hails from Los Angeles or from San Francisco; following the two controversial stories behind the inventor of this cookie.
Largest Brands and Manufacturers
Being a favourite dessert in American Chinese restaurants, the fortune cookie is manufactured by various companies shipping worldwide. Some of the big names in this field are:
Wonton Food Inc. – located in Long Island City, this is the largest manufacturer of fortune cookies priding in producing about 4 million cookies daily. Yearly, this grosses about a billion fortune cookies; quite tasking for those responsible for writing the fortune message placed inside the cookie.
Fancy Fortune cookies – founded in 1988, the company prides in making custom fortune cookies, giant fortune cookies and caramel-dipped fortune cookies.