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September 13: National Fortune Cookie Day!

3 min read

Originally written on September 13, 2022 – updated 2023

Go out to a Chinese restaurant or order take-out and pay extra attention to the fortune in your fortune cookie.
And add a little fun and excitement to your life by celebrating National Fortune Cookie Day!

These engaging biscuits always have a suitably general clairvoyant message inside which normally promises good health, luck or fortune to its recipient.
Did you know that, every year, more than 3 billion fortune cookies are made and enjoyed by delighted fans?

Many Americans, as well as Europeans who eat at Chinese restaurants in their states or countries tend to receive a fortune cookie at the end, making them associate this tradition with Chinese culture. However, the actual origins of this delightful treat can be traced back to Kyoto, Japan in the 19th century before making their way to our culture in the 20th century.
As early as the 1870s, some Japanese sweet shops started making little crackers that were folded into shapes which allowed a message to be tucked into the bend (and not into the hollow area).
These original crackers would have been darker in color and made with miso and sesame, giving them less of a sweet taste than our modern fortune cookies.
The fortune cookies of today’s American-Chinese restaurants were then believed to be recreated from this idea when Japanese immigrants arrived on the scene in California and Hawaii in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
However, some people like to tell a story about the fortune cookie that revolves around the Japanese Tea Garden in the Golden Gate Park of San Francisco.
As story goes, the tea garden was the first restaurant in the area to serve the cookie, which was mady by the bakery, Benkyodo.
This bakery claims to have invented the vanilla and butter mixture flavoring that has followed the cookie into the present. They also say that they invented a machine in 1911 that changed the production of the fortune cookies from being slowly shaped by hand to machine production. However, three other Los Angeles based businesses also claim the invention of the modern fortune cookie, so it might be impossible to know exactly where it really came from!
In any case, during World War II, it exploded in popularity, and people have never stopped enjoying them.

How to celebrate?
There are numerous ways…first, enjoying fortune cookies at a restaurant!
Perhaps the most obvious way to celebrate the day is to treat friends or family to a delicious Chinese meal, with the final course consisting of a plate of fortune cookies.
Or trying making your own.
Making them at home can be fun not only for those who like to bake, but also for those who enjoy writing and coming up with creative messages for friends and family!
The cookies can be a bit annoying to make, but the list of ingredients is fairly simple, with most recipes including egg whites, vanilla extract, cinnamon, flour, sugar and water.
They’re also fairly easy to bake, just work quickly to form them as they’ll tend to harden into shape within 30 seconds of being removed from the oven!
Good luck!

Ps. According to other sources, this day is celebrated on July…but depending on when you want to celebrate, it’s always the right time to enjoy a fortune cookie!

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