The fortune cookie, that crisp pastry, wrapped around whimsical sayings, provides a bit of levity after the chow mein and pu-pu platter at our favorite Chinese restaurant. That is, as long as our favorite Chinese restaurant is not located in China! Well, at least not until 1993, when Wonton Foods, based in Brooklyn, New York opened the first fortune cookie factory in China.
The U.S. manufactures most of the three billion fortune cookies made each year and exports them to Chinese restaurants around the world. This “Chinese institution” actually originated in Japan, migrated to Japanese tea gardens in San Francisco and was eventually adopted and marketed by enterprising Chinese restaurateurs throughout the United States and eventually worldwide. Most native Chinese consider the fortune cookie an American oddity and question why anyone would put a piece of paper inside their dessert.