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The Origin of the Fortune Cookie

a fortune cookie with blank paper
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Have you ever enjoyed a Chinese meal and received a fortune cookie at the end of it? These little cookies are enjoyed by millions of people around the world and have become a staple in Chinese restaurants across the United States. But did you know that the fortune cookie is not actually a Chinese invention?

The origin of the fortune cookie is a little unclear, but many historians believe that it was actually invented in Japan in the late 1800s. At this time, there was a type of cookie known as tsujiura senbei that was being made in Japan. These cookies were made with a fortune written on a slip of paper inside them. The cookies were often given as gifts and were said to bring good luck to those who ate them.

So how did the fortune cookie end up in America? It’s a bit of a mystery, but it’s believed that Chinese immigrants who came to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s may have been responsible. These immigrants owned many of the Chinese restaurants that were popping up in America at this time, and they may have been the ones to introduce the fortune cookie to the country.

At first, fortune cookies were not very popular. They were seen as a novelty item and were only served in a few Chinese restaurants in San Francisco. However, their popularity began to grow during World War II. American soldiers who were stationed in Asia discovered the cookies and brought them back to the United States. Soon, the fortune cookie became a symbol of Chinese culture in America and was served in Chinese restaurants all over the country.

One interesting fact about fortune cookies is that the fortunes inside them are often attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius. This is a bit of a misconception, as many of the fortunes that are found in fortune cookies were actually written by Americans. In fact, most Chinese people have never heard of fortune cookies and have no idea who Confucius is.

Despite their American origins and the fact that they are not actually part of Chinese culture, fortune cookies are still beloved by millions of people around the world. They have become an important part of Chinese restaurants in America, and many people enjoy reading their fortunes after a meal.

In recent years, there has been some controversy surrounding the production of fortune cookies. Many fortune cookies are now made by machine, and the fortunes inside them are often generic and uninspired. Some people argue that the charm and magic of the fortune cookie has been lost in mass production.

Despite these criticisms, the fortune cookie remains a beloved and iconic part of Chinese culture in America. Whether you enjoy eating them or not, there is no denying that they have become an important part of American culinary history. So the next time you crack open a fortune cookie and read your fortune, take a moment to appreciate the fascinating history behind this beloved treat.


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