Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Truth About Fortune Cookies

The city I live in is on the map for about three reasons, one of which being the invention of cashew chicken. Springfieldians are pretty serious about their cashew. Like, if you publicly admit in the city of Springfield, MO that you do not enjoy the taste of cashew chicken, you may be tarred and feathered. I think that's written somewhere in the city bylaws.

Anyway, this post isn't about cashew chicken. It's about fortune cookies. As you know, fortune cookies are commonly served in Chinese restaurants. (By the way, Springfield has at least 72 of these. Holy fried rice, that is a lot.) This is what I learned about fortune cookies: They aren't even Chinese!

There is lots of hot debate on the origin of the fortune cookie, but the most common belief is that it originated in San Francisco in the early 1900's. Ironically enough, a Japanese-American is credited with the invention of the fortune cookie. At least that's what the Court of Historical Review ruled in San Francisco in 1983. (See, I told you it was a big deal.) That being said, fortune cookies are considered by the Chinese and the Japanese to be an American delicacy, like Twinkies or McDonald's apple pies. Who would have thought?!

Historically, fortune cookies were stuffed with proverbs or general statements; sayings by Confucius were often used. Since then, fortune cookie-makers have expanded their database of quotes. You never know what "fate" you're going to receive. In fact, this guy--Josh Madison--has kept a record of all the fortunes he's received in cookies since 2008. He certainly eats more Chinese food than I do. 

When I was in middle school, one of my friends told me there are three levels of fortune cookies.

Level 1: A general statement (e.g. "The weather is wonderful.")
Level 2: A general, yet predictive statement (e.g. "If your desires are not extravagant, they will be granted.")
The "you" in level 2 cookies is a general "you," not specific to the cookie consumer.
Level 3: A personal, predictive statement (e.g. "You have an active mind and a keen imagination.")
A statement that would not necessarily be true to any reader.

I haven't found any evidence for "levels of fortune cookies" to be true, but it seems right, so I'll believe it anyway. Plus, when you get a level 3 fortune cookie and classify it as such, it feels like you just beat a Chinese-food video game or something awesome like that.

1 comment

  1. I just decided that that guy Josh Madison is one of the coolest people ever! Haha....but I love this post!