Origin of the fortune cookie?

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I understand the fortune cookie originated in Chinatown. Need details.

-- Larry Speelman (larrysp@earthlink.net), November 07, 1998


I have always believed that the fortune cookie was invented at The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park to go along with the tea. You might check histories of The Tea Garden or Golden Gate Park.

-- Paul Bosque (pbosque@Marin.k12.ca.us), December 23, 1998.

As a Golden Gate Park volunteer historical tour guide, I can perhaps shed a few photons of light on this one:

Although the story is still tossed around as to actual origins, the generally-accepted origins of the fortune cookie, which is most definitely not Chinese, are that it originated at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The designer of (and inhabitant of, until WWII internment)the Japanese Tea Garden was Makoto Hagiwara, and it was he who is alleged to have introduced the fortune cookie in 1914 at the Tea Garden. There have been claims to an inventor in Los Angeles, but after an historical court *judicated* the matter several years ago, the crown was awarded to Hagiwara. So popular a CHINESE attraction has the lil cookie become, there are now fortune cookie factories in China itself.

Just another of life's frequent charming little historical anomalies.

-- Chris Dichtel (cyberiad@earthlink.net), February 01, 1999.

i was always told by my great grandmother that fortune cookies originated from Chinese prisoners back in the T'ang Dynasty who wanted to transfer information to outsiders by hiding notes inside of their food....

-- Jamie (princesskobe@hotmail.com), April 24, 2000.

...I saw something about the grandson of the inventor of the fortune cookie. Need details.

-- Vicky Troy (vtroy@asce.org), November 28, 2000.

I think aliens invented the fortune cookie in order to subtley divert our attention from more dangerous pursuits.

-- Brad Milburn (brad@hebert.pharm.mun.ca), May 24, 2001.

I believe that the lottery invented them to get more bussiness

-- Andy Wyatt (andywyatt2000@yahoo.com), May 29, 2001.

I spent quite a few years living in Hong Kong and have several friends in China. I was told by a friend in Shanghai that the origin (not the inventor) of the fortune cookie comes from the Chinese tradition of hiding a coin in a dumpling at Chinese New Year. A large plateful of steamed dumplings was served, and the person who bit into the lucky dumpling got to keep the money - probably for the crown he/she needed to fix the broken tooth. This custom apparently pre-dated the modern tradition of handing out red packet, which is ubiquitous in every Chinese community today. I believed the story since fortune cookies do resemble dumplings. No doubt Mr. Hagiwara had exposure to Chinese families living in San Francisco, and perhaps "borrowed" the tradition and modernized it. A practice the Japanese have perfected.

-- Mr. Dana Wright Magenau (danamagenau@hotmail.com), June 25, 2001.

The fortune cookie came from jupiter. Some dude made a pncake, and it went bad. Therefore, the fortune cookie came along.

-- no (opad@mint.net), December 04, 2001.

This one magitian had pieces of paper that told fortions an one fell into some pancake batter. When he mad the pancakes they curled up and he found the paper inside.

-- Joshua Bonderman (jbond@hotmail.com), December 08, 2001.

Wherever it came from, you can get the best fortune cookies at the Mee Mee Bakery on Stockton (it's wedged into the block just down from Walgreens). The big cheap bags of "mistake" cookies are the best!!!

-- Miss Rosa (rosadebon@yahoo.com), December 08, 2001.

I believe they were created to wish a young person well as they ventured into adulthood. Perhaps, it contained advice of their parents or loved ones.

-- robin jefferson (rbj0908@aol.com), March 03, 2002.

Teh fortune cookie is indeed a Japanese Tea Garden introduction. It was introduced as refreshment to be taken while strolling in the Japanese Tea Garden by my great, great Grandfather Makoto Hagiwara. This confection is a very old folk art long known in Japan as 'Tsuji ura sembei' and is associated with New Year festivities at Shinto Shrines. This idea was introduced here in San Francisco at the japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park. The confection, as it is known in Japan, is not sweet. The sweetening of it was done to suit American tastes. Our baker used to make it for consumption in the Garden. This novel idea of receiving a fortune in a light sembei cookie is known throughout Japan and has been known there for many generations. (It was/is a felicitous thing to receive a good luck fortune on the New Year from a local Shrine.) As my family was not business oriented, there was never a patent taken out on the fortune cookie in any form. (name, rights, cookie itself, or otherwise) During WWII, local Chinese usurped the idea and began to market it as their own. (The recipe is very simple.) I have met several individuals from Japan,researching the fortune cookie and they are bewildered as to why it is known as Chinese in the US. There was a tv (NHK) news crew once in the Tea Garden, and an individual from Japan researching the folk arts which I met personally. She broadened my knowledge of it considerably. I am still amazed that so may people have met and married over the fortunes received in a fortune cookie to this day. As it is no longer a purely 'Japanese' confection in its present modern day form, it is hoped that many more will continue to have much luck in meeting their own someone special.

Erik Sumiharu Hagiwara-Nagata

-- Erik Sumiharu Hagiwara-Nagta (www.hanascape@aol.com), April 04, 2002.

see also website: www.Hanascape.com

-- Erik S. Hagiwara-Nagata (www.hanascape@aol.com), April 04, 2002.

duh foutuine cokie was made by the bloody jews.

-- nick kenning (kcs_irish_red@hotmail.com), May 02, 2002.



-- ~~~~~ (JUST_rulz@metta.net), May 13, 2002.

I read on a 2002 calendar at a friend's house that the fortune cookie was invented not in China but by a person named Charles Jung in America back in the early 1900's.

-- Margi Chin (mchin9972@cs.com), June 17, 2002.

I believe that the fortune cookie was invented at the 1894 midwinter fair in Golden Gate Park as an incentive or attraction for people.

-- Sean M. Hall (seanmhall@hotmail.com), August 27, 2002.


-- Matt Kwock (fantasyballer88@yahoo.com), December 17, 2002.

It's funny how Erik Sumiharu Hagiwara-Nagta used the word "usurped" when he alleged that the Chinese made use of the idea of "fortune cookies" without right. Yes, perhaps his great grandfather made something similar but that in no way proved that he was the "first" to do it. The Chinese have been around for thousands of years before even the Japanese went to China to learn from them in the 9th century or so. Let's have an open mind in this whole matter short of using words that may offend others.

-- Ah So (so8888@msn.com), January 22, 2003.

By the way, the recipe of "fortune cookies" is indeed very simple and the same kind of snack is very common in Macau and Hong Kong. Sometimes they are stuffed with shreds of coconut, sesame seeds and sugar.

-- Ah So (so8888@msn.com), January 22, 2003.

The fortune cookie was orignated in the 13th and 14th century to send secret messages about upcoming rising from the mongols. The chinese sent these messages to each other to keep everyone aware of what is going on. And no they were not made by the jews! (kcs irish red@hotmail.com)

-- Ashley Grant (blondie0611a@aol.com), February 04, 2003.

i don't exactly know where fortune cookies came from (it seems many people here have given good ideas), but i do know that the food used to send messages by the Chinese around the time of the Mongol attacks was mooncakes and not fortune cookies.. i have seldom seen fortune cookies in Asia, and am pretty sure they were invented in America..

-- Trevor Powell (ransomed_1@hotmail.com), March 24, 2003.

Don't mind my ramblings... I was drunk when I typed this...

-- Trevor Powell (ransomed_1@hotmail.com), March 24, 2003.

My research has shown that for many centuries the CHINESE have noted various special occasion and times (New Year etc.) by giving and receicing of Moon Cakes that were made from the Lotus Nut Paste. They began to put messages in them when the Mongols occupied China, during the 13-14th Centuries. They were planning to overthrow the invaders but needed a communication tool that would not tip off the Mongols and thus they but messages in the Moon Cakes. This was primarly done to circulate a message with out alerting the Mongols, who had distaste for the popular moon cakes. When Chinese-American came to America and were working on the railroads they would make and give them to fellow workers with a good luck message inside (BORN WAS THE FORTUNE COOKIE). After generations had changed the recipe they became a staple in San Fransico, the details of which I do not offically know. Finding they're way into Asian influenced resturants they became widly popular with Non-Asian customers and has been a tradition in North America for some time. It has become so popular that factories are being built all around the world to share this popular treat. HA! - I just bought an entire box! Come to my website @ http://acad.stedwards.edu/~aclay

-- Aaron M. Clay (Niteloyal@yahoo.com), May 21, 2003.

The thing about the secret message and the monguls is a true story, but it only explains the origin of the mooncake. Chinese mooncakes are completely different from fortune cookies. Fortune cookies do not originate form China; they originate from the US and the reason why there might be fortune cookie factories in China is because they're a novel idea and restaurants might serve them to foregn tourists. The fortune cookie might be compared to tea time in Britain; it is common belief that everything in Britain stops at four o'clock for tea, but in fact very few British have tea time at all.

-- Lam Sok Yih (sokyih@hotmail.com), September 26, 2003.

|I made the the Fortune cookie you dumbies

-- meg (|Pretikiti05@yahoo.com), October 10, 2003.

I'm doing a report and all of your information really helped. from all i've collected it seems they were made at the Tea garden place in San Fransisco.

-- Melinda Phipps (popmdp@yahoo.com), November 05, 2003.

The presence of cookie factories in China does not surprise me. Chinese companies are willing to manufacture anything that will sell in the American market. They can do it faster and cheaper (but not necessarily better). Try to find a pair of shoes at PayLess Shoe Source that is not made in China. Wal-Mart and K-Mart would be very different stores without goods made in China. (Read your labels.)

-- Yeung Wing Keung (mitchucc@gte.net), December 27, 2003.

The mooncake story could verywell explaine the passing of messages in treats, and then perhaps the sweet cokkie itself as we know it could have began at the Tea place as mentioned. Is it so hard to believe that perhaps their were multiple influences?

-- Cheng (xiaocheng@asioanavenue.com), February 16, 2004.

the answer about the mongols not liking the taste of moon cakes is absolutely true. it came from that.

-- Sarah Karver (stupidgirl@hotmail.com), February 24, 2004.

Sorry all, but Hagiwara WAS indeed the first to commercially produce the fortune cookie. He sold them on 9th Ave and Lincoln Way during his off hours from managing the Tea Garden. He later sold them in the Tea Garden itself and the rest is history. Furthermore, there is absolutely NO truth to anyone from LA having anything to do with it!

-- DonB (DonBeppino@hotmail.com), February 25, 2004.

i dont think we'll ever know about the mystery of the fortune cookie. All i know is when im done eating my orange chicken nothing tops a fucking fortune cookie. Well i will tell you some of my other ideas later but as for now ill talk to you chinese mother fuckers later. Mmm....Mmm. Bitch.

-- Mi long Shlong (iiibigredlll@aol.com), May 03, 2004.

The history of fortune cookies dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries when China was occupied by the Mongols. The traditional lotus nut paste moon cakes were used in which to hide secret messages regarding the date of a popular uprising against the invaders. The moon cakes were distributed by the patriotic revolutionary Chu Yuan Chang (disguised as a Taoist priest) who was safe in the knowledge that the Mongols had no taste for lotus nut paste. The uprising was successful and so the basis of the Ming Dynasty was formed. The transition from moon cakes to modern-day fortune cookies was born out of necessity in the hard days of the American gold rush and the railway boom. When the Chinese 69'ers were building the great American railways through the Sierra Nevada to California they put happy messages inside biscuits to exchange at the moon festival instead of cakes, and so fortune cookies began. A cottage industry emerged as the Chinese settled in San Francisco and until 1964 (when the first automated production started) they were made by hand.

-- Amy M. Burford (amichelle0731324@yahoo.com), September 30, 2004.

hi how are you doing larry

-- me george (keifer@bigbob.zzn.com), September 30, 2004.

i've actually researched it and everywhere i've gone they've said that Charles Jung was the first person to actually invent the FORTUNE COOKIE all ya'll are dumb k. if someone invents something kind of like it. it's still not a stupid fortune cookie. "oh, but they sent messages while they were in jail..." well of course they did smart one but if i were a guard and someone handed me a cookie i would eat it.oh, and also if they're in jail, how did they make the cookies?

-- margaret warr (queen_smeople@hotmail.com), October 17, 2004.

The fortune cookie is actually an American invention. It was invented in the early 1900's. They only tie it has to the chinese is that it was invented by a Chinese guy.

-- Mike (mklrage02@hotmail.com), October 22, 2004.

Why the heck does it matter where they came from just eat them !!!!!!

-- Jennie Marie (bikinibabe11090@yahoo.com), October 25, 2004.

The San Francisco Examiner, Oct 28, 1983, p. B-11 had an article headlining - "SF, you'll be happy to know is the home of the fortune cookie." Federal Judge Daniel M. Hanlon ruled that San Francisco, and not Los Angeles, was the birthplace of the fortune cookie, and that Hagiwara, not Tsung was its inventor. [ http://njrgc.greglaun.org/Issues/Spring2004/Fitzerman-Blue.pdf ]. There are other similar versions throughout history for both China and Japan. And adaptations thereof. And if you based it on history alone, China is older than Japan. But adaptations can occur through conquests, migration, and need.

-- Johnson Hor (jhor@waldenhouse.org), November 02, 2004.

it was originated frm. japan ,magaaaaaaa

-- maga mugu (maga@hotmail.com), November 12, 2004.

Here is a website that might have some answers.....http://www.fortunecookie.demon.co.uk/fhistory.html

-- Joe Snow (daoc_wylee_coyote@Yahoo.com), December 02, 2004.

Fortune cookies definatly did not originate in the US. Even if I am wrong, There historic accounts of "Fortune Cookies" in Asia's culture long before the discovery of the Americas by our founding fathers. In general stories they seem to have originated as a form of transferring messages in secret. Hope this helps.

-- Joe Snow (daoc_wylee_coyote@yahoo.com), December 02, 2004.

The fortune cookie was invented in San Fransisco, around the early 1900's. The cookie originated in America, yes, but is popular with the Chinese. It could be because the San Fransisco inventor of the fortune cookie was in fact Chinese.

-- Bean (dotted_line@whoever.com), February 01, 2005.

I believe the fortune cookie was created by drug lords to bring them greater fortune and I bet they liked cookies. I bet they liked paper too. I bet they ate their own poop and eat monkey butts.

-- Eugene P. Flanders Senior (pinktarantulas@gmail.com), February 25, 2005.

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