The fortune cookie is a small, round pastry containing a slip of paper with a “fortune” printed on it in English. The fortunes are usually aphorisms, short sentences or phrases. They are also referred to as “fortune crackers”, “fortune cookies”, “fortune biscuits”, “fortune wafers”, or (especially in the UK) “Chinese crackers”.
One theory is that the fortune cookie was invented in China during the 19th century by a cook named Tom Wong who worked for the Kwong Wah Yit Poh restaurant in Hong Kong. In fact, there is no evidence that it is a Chinese invention at all, and some sources theorize that it was actually invented by Japanese immigrants during the same period.
The fortune cookie’s popularity has grown considerably since its introduction in America around 1910 as part of Chinese New Year celebrations. It has been claimed that they became part of American culture during World War II when Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps.
Drugs were scarce and expensive at that time and so many people used them to relieve stress and depression. They would share their fortunes with their fellow internees as positive messages meant to cheer them up during these times of hardship.
Last modified: August 2, 2022