Fortune cookie

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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.[1]

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. Fortune cookies have been summarized as being "introduced by the Japanese, popularized by the Chinese, but ultimately they are consumed by Americans."[2]

Contents

Origin

As far back as the 19th century, a cookie very similar in appearance to the modern Fortune cookie was made in Kyoto, Japan, and there is a Japanese temple tradition of random fortunes, called omikuji. The Japanese version of the cookie differs in several ways: they are a little bit larger; are made of darker dough; and their batter contains sesame and miso rather than vanilla and butter. They contain a fortune; however, the small slip of paper was wedged into the bend of the cookie rather than placed inside the hollow portion. This kind of cookie is called 辻占煎餅 Tsujiura Senbei and are still sold in some regions of Japan.[2]

Most of the people who claim to have introduced the cookie to the United States are Japanese, so the theory is that these bakers were modifying a cookie design which they were aware of from their days in Japan.

Makoto Hagiwara of Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is reported to have been the first person in the USA to have served the modern version of the cookie when he did so at the tea garden in the 1890s or early 1900s. The fortune cookies were made by a San Francisco bakery, Benkyodo.[3][4][5]

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