Three billion fortune cookies are produced every year, most of them are sold in the US, but the legend about this delicious cookie carrying wishes and good within have spread across the globe. Today, you can found it in every good Chinese restaurant, and it tastes slightly different depending on the country. You think they are Chinese, right? Think again, because Chinese have never invented fortune cookies. Derrick Wong, the vice president of Wonton Food, the largest fortune cookie manufacturer in the world, is surprised by the fact that people think Fortune cookies come from China. “People see it and think of it as a Chinese food dessert, but he conceded, “The weakest part of the Chinese menu is dessert.”
Many pieces of evidence showed that fortune cookies were first introduced during World War I and only served in a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. Called first
‘Fortune tea cakes,’ they became famous among soldiers visiting the city who did not know that the famous crispy little biscuit had, in fact, Japanese origins.
Yasuko Nakamatchi, a Japanese researcher, found that many families owning bakeries near Shinto shrine in Kyoto were producing the Tsujiura Senbei (Fortune crackers). This cracker is very similar to Fortune Cookies, is flavored with Sesame and Miso and is larger and browner than his American cousins, but the little paper wrapping it is still there holding it in his small arms. According to Japanese history, Senbei has been served in Japan since 1878, almost 30 years before the World War I. One other story says that David Jung a Chinese immigrant from Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company invented it in 1918. The reason why fortune cookies become a signature dish of Chinese restaurants is still in debate. It is believed that during the 1920s and 1930s, many Japanese immigrants in California owned Chop suey restaurants serving Americanized Chinese cuisine and the Tsujiura Senbei made his way to Chinese cookie. Wong pointed out: The Japanese may have invented the Fortune cookie, but the Chinese people explored the potential of it. It’s now part of the Chinese-American culture. It only happened here in the States, never in China.