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Q and A Banner - #3 (World Records-1)

Saturday, August 6, 2011


 "Introduced by the Japanese, popularized by the Chinese, but ultimately ... consumed by Americans."

A fortune cookie is a crisp cookie usually made from flour, sugar, vanilla, and oil with a "fortune" wrapped inside. A "fortune" is a piece of paper with words of faux wisdom or a vague prophecy. The message inside may also include a Chinese phrase with translation or a list of lucky numbers used by some as lottery numbers, some of which have become actual winner numbers.

After the fortune cookies went public in America around 1914, people fell in love with the little delicacy.  Fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants in the United States and some other countries, but are absent in China. The exact provenance of fortune cookies is unclear, though various immigrant groups in California claim to have popularized them in the early 20th century, basing their recipe on a traditional Japanese cracker.

"Happiness is sometimes
in a little cookie"
Although stories differ as to exactly who invented the cookie and where, it is agreed that the cookie was born in California and appeared at the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair.


Well, it's actually quite simple.
When done by hand by workers such as those at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company in San Fransisco, they would place the fortune paper on a round, flat, warm, quickly-baked cookie, and then fold them in such a way that it became an art form (as seen in the first video), forming them into its well-known shape. (Actually, to me they seem to appear just as good as them being made automatically!).

The secret was to fold the dough quickly before the cookie hardened.  The combined ingredients in the batter - water, flour, sugar and eggs - made the cookies malleable for a few seconds.

In 1974 fortune cookie manufacturing changed forever. Edward Louie, the owner of the Lotus Fortune Cookie Company in San Francisco, invented a machine that could insert the fortune and fold the cookie. In 1980 Yong Lee created the first fully automated fortune cookie machine, called the Fortune III. Modern machines follow the same steps of handmade fortune cookies: they mix ingredients, pour batter into 3” cups which are then covered with metal plates to keep the batter flat and bake for about 3 ½ minutes. Vacuums then suck fortunes into place, use metal fingers to fold the fortune in half to trap the fortune inside, bend the cookie into shape, and cool and package the final cookie. Now fortune cookie machines like the Kitamura FCM-8006W can make up to 8,000 cookies in an hour!

There are approximately 3 billion fortune cookies made each year around the world, the vast majority of them used for consumption in the United States. The largest manufacturer of the cookies is Wonton Food Inc., headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. They make over 4.5 million fortune cookies per day. Another large manufacturer is Peking Noodle in the Los Angeles area. There are other smaller, local manufacturers including Tsue Chong Co. in Seattle and Sunrise Fortune Cookie in Philadelphia. Many smaller companies will also sell custom fortunes.

Fortune cookies, while largely an American item, are occasionally seen in other countries, most often at Chinese restaurants. Fortune cookies have been distributed in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, Brazil, Mexico, France, and Germany.


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