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Historical Events  General
Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookies

MMDE: Fortune Cookies originated in China

Current: Fortune Cookies did not originate in China

Come on, this is a no-brainer. Everyone knows fortune cookies came from China - don't they?

Not any more.

Today, the Chinese style phrases, proverbs or vague prophecies we see in them certainly allude to their origins as being oriental, and the Chinese restaurants they are served in, together with the way they are made, seem to fit in with what Westerners expect of Chinese food. But nope, they're rarely seen in China at all. This was even confirmed in a 1983 court case confirming they were first served in San Francisco.

It turns out they are largely an American invention. Today they are certainly served in the Chinese restaurants of the US,  but they were not brought over from the orient as a native dish.

Their popularity is due to the way they spread with the growth of what would have been seen as the new, exotic trend in foreign restaurants serving oriental food - or what appealed to the Americans of the day as such, even if not authentic.

So, what about those messages?

The original fortune cookie didn't have any messages in them, so probably wasn't called a "fortune" cookie back then.

Sometimes lottery numbers are placed in them as messages. In 2005, 110 Powerball players won $19 million after using them, prompting an investigation into the cookie's manufacturer.

By a weird turn of events, in 1989 they were imported to Hong Kong as sold as "genuine american Fortune cookies"!