I absolutely love fortune cookie sayings. The humble fortune cookie never fails to amuse or enlighten. It’s a delightful treat at the end of what’s usually a great dinner. We love a good fortune cookie here at Kitchen Authority.
But did you know its history and origins are both murky and up for debate?
In fact, the truth was so important to people that it has even been the subject of a court case!
What Are Fortune Cookies Made From?
A fortune cookie is a light sugary, crisp cookie and while the recipe can vary from restaurant to restaurant it will typically be made of flour, sugar, vanilla and sesame seed oil.
The “fortune” is written on paper and hidden inside. This paper is not edible as many first time consumers of fortune cookies learn by surprise.
The messages inside are often translations (of varying quality) of traditional Chinese proverbs and in more recent times, in America, they are often jokes or snippets of horoscopes too.
The cookies themselves are not eaten in Japan or China though in Kyoto a similar cookie is made, but without the “fortune”.
In fact, the fortune does not appear to have been associated with this kind of cookie until the mid-20th century.
If you’re interested, Chef John at Food Wishes has a great video on how to make your own fortune cookies. Super cool!
Are Fortune Cookies Japanese Or Chinese?
Jennifer 8. Lee who wrote the authoritative study on the subject says that there’s little doubt in her mind – fortune cookies originate in Japan. This is because she found a block print, made in 1878, in Japan which showed a man using the kind of hand-grinder common in the Kyoto cookie mills of today.
Her other reason is simpler still – Chinese cookery isn’t big on desserts. In fact, while Chinese main courses and starters are among the world’s finest, the country’s desserts are nearly universally derided even by the Chinese themselves.
Why are fortune cookie is found in so many Chinese-American restaurants?
Well, it appears that misery is to blame. During World War 2, in a moment of shameful history, America rounded up most Japanese-Americans and placed them into internment camps.
Seeing a gap in the market, Chinese-Americans decided to pick up the slack and by the time the war had ended – it was the Chinese and not the Japanese who had become permanently associated with the fortune cookie.
Chinese restaurants were so popular, in fact, that they had become a nationwide sensation during this time.
Mass Production of Fortune Cookies
While fortune cookies may once have been made on a restaurant by restaurant basis, this is often no longer the case. There are 3 billion of the cookies consumed each year and most of them made for the U.S. market.
The biggest producer of cookies is Wonton Food Inc. of Brooklyn, NY and they are said to churn out nearly 5 million of the cookies each and every day!
In a peculiar moment of history, the company was investigated by the police because in 2005, 110 Powerball Lottery Players won a total of around $19 million by using the “lucky numbers” that had been printed on the back of the company’s “fortunes”!
No foul play was uncovered by the investigation.
The Nutritional Content Of Fortune Cookies
It’s fair to say that a cookie is a cookie, and these aren’t the kind of products that you want to eat a lot of.
On average fortune cookies contain about 30 calories and pack in around 7 grams of carbohydrate (including 3 grams of sugar – though some brands don’t have any sugar in them).
They also contain small amounts of salt, iron and possibly protein. Overall, they’re not nutritious but are fine in small quantities.
Fortune Cookies And Popular Culture
The fortune cookie is gently mocked in Amy Tan’s superlative novel from 1989, The Joy Luck Club. Two Chinese immigrants find themselves stuffing fortunes into cookies and discovering the fortunes are not so much wise as “bad instruction”.
In America, where they’ve become almost an essential part of culinary culture, there are many different fortune cookie inspired products and one of our favorite is the fortune cookie “magic 8 ball”.
Over in Italy and Greece they like their fortune cookie themed toilet paper, the fortunes are revealed when the paper becomes moist.
There’s really no accounting for the varied sense of humor in different cultures, is there?
101 Awesome Fortune Cookie Sayings
As promised, we bring you a ton of funny and wise fortune cookie sayings that really have appeared in fortune cookies.
All of these sayings have really been found in fortune cookies:
- Delight the world with compassion, kindness and grace
- The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
- Some days you are pigeon, some days you are statue. Today, bring umbrella.
- The fortune you seek is in another cookie.
- Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur.
- Your reality check about to bounce.
- Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
- When blind leading the blind……..get out of the way.
- Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
- Only difference between rut and a grave is depth.
- Experience is what you have left when everything else gone.
- A closed mouth gathers no feet.
- A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.
- A cynic is only a frustrated optimist.
- A foolish man listens to his heart. A wise man listens to cookies.
- Your road to glory will be rocky but fulfilling.
- Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
- Patience is your alley at the moment. Don’t worry!
- Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
- Don’t worry about money. The best things in life are free.
- Don’t pursue happiness – create it.
- If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving not for you.
- Ninety-nine percent of all lawyers give the rest a bad name.
- Easiest way to find lost object is buy replacement.
- Smart husband buys wife fine china. Then she not trust him to wash it.
- Inside every old person is young person wondering what the hell happened.
- When chosen for jury duty, tell judge “fortune cookie say guilty!”
- Stop eating now. Food poisoning no fun.
- You are cleverly disguised as responsible adult.
- Tomorrow at breakfast, listen carefully: do what rice krispies tell you to.
- Drive like hell, you will get there.
- Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
- You think it’s a secret, but they know.
- If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is it naked or homeless?
- Change is inevitable, except for vending machines.
- Don’t eat the paper.
- You will die alone and poorly dressed.
- A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
- If you look back, you’ll soon be going that way.
- You will live long enough to open many fortune cookies.
- An alien of some sort will be appearing to you shortly.
- Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the conquest of it.
- Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.
- All things are difficult before they are easy.
- The real kindness comes from within you.
- A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships are built.
- Person who eat fortune cookie get lousy dessert.
- Okay to look at past and future. Just don’t stare.
- Wise person needs either good manners or fast reflexes.
- Soup was secret family recipe made from toad. Hope you liked!
- You will soon have an out of money experience.
- One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
- The older you get, the better you were.
- Age is high price to pay for maturity.
- Procrastination is art of keeping up with yesterday.
- A fool and his money are soon partying.
- Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.
- Flattery will go far tonight.
- He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.
- He who laughs last is laughing at you.
- He who throws dirt is losing ground.
- Some men dream of fortunes, others dream of cookies.
- Someone will invite you to a Karaoke party.
- That wasn’t chicken.
- There is no mistake so great as that of being always right.
- You love Chinese food.
- I am worth a fortune.
- You don’t need strength to let go of something. What you really need is understanding.
- If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain.
- Fear is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.
- Hardly anyone knows how much is gained by ignoring the future.
- The wise man is the one that makes you think that he is dumb.
- The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness.
- He who throws mud loses ground.
- Success lies in the hands of those who wants it.
- To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
- One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.
- Probability of being seen directly proportional to stupidity of act.
- He who dies with most toys, still dies.
- Person who rests on laurels gets thorn in backside.
- Practice safe eating. Always use condiments.
- Person who give self-haircut after rice wine will be buzzed.
- Politicians are like diapers: change often, and for same reason.
- Atheism no fun. No holidays.
- Fat person not afraid of heights – afraid of widths.
- You have kleptomania. Take something for it.
- When marriage outlawed, only outlaws have in-laws.
- Some men dream of fortunes, others dream of cookies.
- The greatest danger could be your stupidity.
- We don’t know the future, but here’s a cookie.
- The world may be your oyster, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get its pearl.
- You will be hungry again in one hour.
- Don’t behave with cold manners.
- Don’t forget you are always on our minds.
- Fortune not found? Abort, Retry, Ignore.
- Help! I am being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory.
- It’s about time I got out of that cookie.
- It takes less time to do a thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong.
- Big journeys begin with a single step.
- Of all our human resources, the most precious is the desire to improve.
- Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.
That’s probably enough fortune cookie inspired wisdom for a single day, but why not treat yourself to an actual fortune cookie in the near future?