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Chinese Fortune Cookies

Updated on December 28, 2008

When I worked in a Chinese Takeaway, some costumers came up and asked for Chinese Fortune Cookies. I have never heard of that kind of stuff. Because I just arrived in Britain several months ago. I was quite embarrassed, and had to ask my boss, and found out so-called Chinese fortune cookies actually was an invention of Chinese-American Restaurants. They are usually served as a dessert with Chinese food. The cookies are little known in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hongkong.

This remind me of chicken curry. When I arrived at London five years ago, and lived in a rented house, my landlord asked me if I could cook chicken curry, he said chicken curry was his favourite Chinese. I have never heard of that Chinese food, but as a Chinese how can I say I can't cook chicken curry? So I said yes.

Five year passed, when I collected my daughter from school in Chinese New Year's Day, she looked very excited and showed me a pack of Chinese Fortune Cookies with a paper-cut lantern. I saw a lion head and dragon in their classroom. Obviously just had a Chinese new year celebration. I opened the fortune cookies bag for my daughter, there were five pieces strangely folded crisp-like yellow "cookies" in side a beautifully printed bag! A paper with Chinese phrases and translation. I forgot what's about, but sounds quite lucky and auspicious.

According Wiki, "The Fortune Cookie is a crisp cookie made from flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk which is baked around a fortune, a piece of paper with words of faux wisdom or vague prophecy. Throughout the western world, it is usually served with Chinese food in Chinese-American restaurants as a dessert. The message inside may also include a list of lucky numbers (used by some as lottery numbers) and a Chinese phrase with translation. Fortune cookies in their current form were first served in California by immigrants who based the cookie on a traditional Japanese cracker. The cookies are little-known in mainland China or Taiwan." (

But actually, you can find some traditional Chinese New Year food clue in a fortune cookies. People likes to put coin or even a golden ring in a dumpling in new year dinner or birth day feast. The people who luckily eat the dumpling with the golden coin, he is the luck star of that celebration.

When I attended a Christmas dinner party, and saw some colourful foil wrappers, my colleague took one and asked me to pull the wrapper, the wrapper broke with a crack sound and a paper slip fell out. There was a joke on the paper. That's called Christmas Cracker! How similar is that between a Christmas Cracker and a Chinese fortune cookies except that you can eat the fortune cookies but not a Christmas cracker! Is there any relationship between them?

At first, I thought that the invention of Chinese fortune cookies may be inspired by Christmas crackers. But quite contrary, when the Christmas cracker was invented in 1847 in London by Tom smith, he was actually inspired by Chinese fortune cookies. When Tom began selling his new sweets copied from a French food "Bon bon", and noticed that his sweet had become popular gifts for loved ones and sweethearts of young men. Then Chinese fortune cookies inspired him to introduce small slips of paper inside the wrapping that had love mottoes on them. (

What a laugh!" The world is mixing up, Western, Eastern, Chinese food or European food, westernization or orientalization?


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      Jade T 

      8 years ago

      I'm in an advanced class in middle school called Team 21. We take a Chinese corse here, rather than Spanish. This article really helped me. It inspired me. I'm making a Power Point on the Chinese New Year, and I slipped some of this information in it. Thanks for the information!


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