Fortune Cookies

Dessert that talks to us. What an ingenious concept. Tuesday, September 13, is Fortune Cookie Day, a day when we recognize the fun of cookies with messages.

I bought some the other day, just to see an array of those messages. Expecting fortunes, I was quite disappointed. More often than not, the strips of paper contained vague, complimentary comments on my personality. Apparently, I’m warm, wise and “always entertaining and delightful”. Well, that news isn’t all that surprising to me, but my wife and kids were quite amazed. In a laugh-out-loud kind of way.

There’s a great debate among fortune cookie enthusiasts over how they were invented. One camp credits a Los Angeles noodle maker, David Jung, who called on ancient Chinese tradition to concoct the confection, then filled them with Bible verses written out by a minister friend. The other camp claims a Japanese gardener, Makoto Hagiwara, thought of the cookie as a way to slip a thank you note to a new employer. Both are said to have come up with the concept around 1916.

Here’s what I know: there’s something fun about hidden messages. And since fortune cookies nowadays rarely contain fortunes, I’ve brainstormed a bit about other kinds of cookies that could contain personal notes:

Insult cookies: “You don’t even deserve to have a fortune!”
Flattery cookies: “That dress takes 10 pounds off you.”
Temptation cookies: “You just ate low-fat Chinese. Have another cookie.”
Greeting cookies: “Yo. How you doin’?”
Mothering cookies: “You’re looking a little pale. Are you getting enough sleep?”
Surrealist cookies: “Give the monkey the flashlight.”
Teenage surrealist cookies: “Like, give the monkey the flashlight.”
Annoying cookies: “Message on other side.” (On both sides.)
Cookies from toddlers: “MY COOKIE! MINE!”
Optimist cookies: “This is your day to shine!”
Pessimist cookies: “This is your day to get a shiner!”

Perhaps you have a few new kinds of cookies you would add to the list.
I’ve developed another idea using fortune cookies, too. I think fortunes would be a fun way to start a story with your kids. So I’ve posted a few original, intriguing messages that could go into a main character’s sweet treat.

Hold on. Here’s one more cookie I haven’t opened. I’m cracking it, pulling out the slip. It says: “Many families will be creative today.”

Hey, that works for me.

Bruce Van Patter

all material ©2005 Bruce Van Patter