Fortune Cookies

A lot of people believe that fortune cookies originated in China.  This is not true.  They originated in a bakery, called Benkyodo, in San Francisco.  And they were in Japanese American restaurants and not in Chinese restaurants.  It was not until World War II, when Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps, that it went from being served in Japanese American restaurants to Chinese American restaurants.

There was debate over who first created the fortune cookie.  Makoto Hagiwara said that he was the first one to sell the cookie in the 1890’s, which he got from a San Francisco bakery, called Benkyodo.  There was another person, by the name of David Jung, founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Co. in Los Angeles, that said that he created the cookie in 1918.  This dispute was then taken to a Federal Judge of the Court of Historical Review.  The judge sided with Hagiwara.  The idea, however, of putting a fortune in the cookie came from a Japanese Temple Tradition of random fortunes, called Omikuji.  And it was designed after a similar cookie created in the 19th century in Kyoto, Japan.  The Japanese version is bigger and uses sesame and miso instead of vanilla and butter.

This cookie was not hard to make.  It does take some tough fingers due to having to fold the cookie in half and then fold it over the rim of a glass to get the shape.  If you fold it when the cookie gets cold then it will just crack and will not form the shape.  You must spread the batter out in a thin circle as well and take them out of the oven when the edges begin to brown.  I did not use vanilla as a flavoring in mine.  I changed it up and put Chinese five spice in instead.