I was rummaging through my pantry last night looking for a convenient after dinner snack. I didn’t feel like taking the time to make popcorn, so I tossed some fortune cookies in a bowl and figured that would do. After eating eight of them and reading my fortunes, I decided to research the origins of the fortune cookie on the internet.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that fortune cookies, which have long been associated with Chinese food, did not originate in China at all. If fact, their origin may not even be Chinese-American. While the inventor and the precise details remain a matter of debate, what I did learn is that the idea was concocted in California and became common in Chinese restaurants after World War II. Evidently, Americans wanted dessert after they ate, and since Chinese cuisine is not typically followed by sweets, the fortune cookie gave them what they wanted in a decidedly unique manner.
However, that is not all it did! What Google won’t tell you, is that fortune cookies also made my top ten list of “I can’t believe I did that” things! When I was in college, being the overachiever that I was, I decided to make homemade fortune cookies for my boyfriend.
I typed up romantic messages using my Smith-Corona typewriter, and spent hours trying to make the recipe the right consistency so they’d flop over the edge of a bowl and harden to form the proper fortune cookie shape. You know what I discovered? It is exceptionally difficult. You know what else I discovered? It totally wasn’t worth it!
So, next time you go out to eat and they bring fortune cookies with the check, I hope you feel fortunate that you were never crazy enough to do what I did – or at least I hope you weren’t! What I learned from this experience is that there is a reason fortune cookies are made at fortune cookie factories. In fact, I think half the fortunes should read, “Don’t try this at home.” And the other half of them should read, “We are serious!”