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Origins of Custom Fortune Cookies

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Who invented fortune cookies? The answer is David Jung or an unknown chef in 19th century Kyoto Japan who used to call them Omikuji. So which is it you may ask? As with most things historical, it depends on whose story you believe in. Read on, and draw your conclusion, as to who invented the original custom fortune cookie.

pink fortune cookie

First Theory - The cookie was invented in America

The first theory that many people believe is that David Jung, a Chinese American who resides in Los Angeles claims to have created the cookie in 1918. David Jung ran a business called The Hong Kong Noodle Company. A legal court in America ruled in David's favour that he indeed invented it, however subsequently another court in the US in a different jurisdiction overruled that decision.

Second Theory

In feudal Kyoto in Japan, there is this style of cookie that is larger than the current size of the modern fortune cookie. The colour is darker, and instead of vanilla and butter found in modern cookies, this traditional Japanese version contains sesame seeds and miso.

The significant similarity though is that this cookie was hollow on the inside, and inside this cavity, a slip of paper is found inside.

fortune cookie who invented it

Theory Number 3

The third theory on who invented the custom fortune cookie was by a claim made by Seiichi Kito, founder of another restaurant in Los Angeles. Supposedly Seiichi, got the idea from traditional Japanese cookies and placing a slip of traditional Japanese fortune paper into it. These slips of papers are typically sold in temples and shrines across Japan. Supposedly Seiichi sold his cookies through Chinese restaurants, hence the association for Fortune Cookies with Chinese culture.

A Chinese Cookie it is Not

What is for sure, is that the fortune cookie, was not invented in China, has no historical links to Chinese history, or culture. In fact, the Wonton Food company attempted to market the fortune cookie in China in 1992 but failed, as it was considered too American.


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