If you reside in the United States, you can expect a crisp little cookie with a center surprise at the end of your favorite Chinese restaurant meal. Prophecy, inspirational phrase or possible winning lottery number combination, it’s hard to find anyone that will pass up the chance to at least read the fortune.
In fact, the modern day fortune cookie is an American invention with its origin in California. The cookies are descended from Japanese fortune crackers known as tsujiura senbei, still found in the Kyoto region of Japan and most popular during New Year festivities.
Determining the inventor of the modern day fortune cookie has proved to be difficult. The great debate has two possible histories. One story is that Pastor David Jung, a Chinese immigrant living in Los Angeles invented the cookie in 1918 and handed the cookies out to the poor. The fortunes were actually bible verses. The other history claims that Japanese immigrant Makoto Hagiwara invented the cookie in 1914 after being reinstated in his gardening job at the City’s Japanese Tea Garden. The fortunes were thank-you notes and began being served as regular items at the Japanese Tea Garden. The cookies were also featured in the 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair.
The claim to the cookie had gotten so intense that in 1983, a mock trial was held in San Francisco to determine the origin and rightful owner. To no one’s surprise the San Francisco judge awarded ownership to the San Francisco immigrant. Los Angeles was quick to denounce the ruling, and the battle continues.
Regardless of who modernized this special treat, we at ORGANO™ love our fortune cookies, especially when dipped into a hot cup of our favorite OG coffee!