These sweet little cookies contain small pieces of paper intended to guide you forward in life. Essentially, they’re telling you your fortune! But how trustworthy are these tiny clairvoyant slips, and how much do you know about the Nostradamus of desserts? Here are some fun facts about fortune cookies to really help clue you in.
1. They’re not Chinese!
What is probably the most eye-opening thing about fortune cookies is that they’re not actually Chinese! In fact, the concept of fortune cookies was created in the 20th century in California! They’re suddenly a lot less mystical!
2. They’re closer to being Japanese!
Although fortune cookies are certainly not Chinese originally, that does not mean they’re not inspired by Asian cooking! In fact, many now believe that fortune cookies stem from Tsujiura Sensei, a traditional Japanese cracker that contains paper fortunes.
3. How did fortune cookies become associated with Chinese culture?
Marketing! Fortune cookies became known as “Chinese” since Chinese-American restaurants began to serve them to every customer after every meal! And, since they were so popular, people simply assumed that they were of Chinese origin.
4. How are fortune cookies made?
If you’ve ever had a fortune cookie, you may have wondered how on Earth these sweet treats are made! They’re definitely not like the chocolate chip cookies we’re all used to! Fortune cookies are made from a thin, sweet, and lightly toasted dough. And, as you’ll have noticed, the dough hardens once cooled, giving it that famous, crisp texture.
5. Do they predict the future… really?
Of course, fortune cookies get their name mostly thanks to the fortunes within! These predictions or guiding words usually appear on a piece of paper within the cookie and can either be taken seriously or with a pinch of salt.
6. English or Mandarin?
Since fortune cookies are mostly an American concept, they usually appear in English. However, many now include the fortunes told in Mandarin behind or next to the English translation. They now also appear in Spanish, too!
7. They’re often mass-produced.
As tasty as they may be, fortune cookies are not homemade by your favorite Chinese restaurant! In fact, they are mass-produced in factories, then bought by restaurants. Again, suddenly less mystical – sorry about that.
8. What’s up with the shape?
Fortune cookies have a signature shape that resembles Pac-Man, if you get what we mean! And to get that signature shape, the warm dough is folded in half while the fortune is placed inside. Then, it is very gently bent over the edge of a rod, or even sometimes something as simple as a cup, to get that wonderful, Pac-Man-y shape!
9. Fortune cookies have their own day!
If you are a big fan of fortune cookies and would like to celebrate them properly, you will be thoroughly elated to know they have their special day! September 13th is National Fortune Cookie Day in the US. There’s a special day for everything, you know…
10. Are they controversial?
Possibly. As increasing waves of people have come to terms with the fact that fortune cookies are not in fact Chinese, they have become somewhat of a controversial topic. People are beginning to question their authenticity and if they are actually a form of cultural appropriation.
FAQs about Fortune Cookies
Why do we eat fortune cookies?
Since fortune cookies are not in fact Chinese, many have begun to wonder why exactly we eat them! They have simply become a tradition, notably in Chinese-American restaurants. And, whether you like them or not, they are fun for the whole table and are unique to this kind of restaurant!
Is it OK to eat fortune cookies?
Yes, it is perfectly safe to eat fortune cookies! In fact, they have a very crisp and sweet flavor that many enjoy! Just make sure you break the fortune slip out first!
How long do fortune cookies last?
Fortune cookies can quickly become moist, so they must be kept in an air-tight container! When homemade, fortune cookies usually last between two to three days.
Do you know any fun facts about fortune cookies? Share them in the comments below!