In Chinese restaurants from America to Brazil, Britain, Australia, and much of the western world in between, there’s one thing we’ve all come to expect at the end of our meals. Aside from heartburn and maybe an upset tummy, we expect a tray full of fortune cookies to be delivered with the check. You know, those crisp, folded cookies with a paper slip inside telling you your lucky lotto numbers and the importance of friendship in your life. But did you realize that you’ll never encounter these kinds of cookies at restaurants within China itself? Investigations show that Chinese fortune cookies have absolutely nothing to do with China! The truth, it would seem, lies a little bit further east.

Fortune cookies might be one of the least coveted but highly adored desserts found in the Western world. You could be stuffed to the brim with chow mein and let still throw a hissy fit if jilted out of a cookie. Many people don’t even eat the crunchy shell; they only want to read their fortunes. The fortune cookie has become more of a fortune dispenser than an actual treat.

But here’s the really strange thing: People associate fortune cookies with Chinese food, when in reality, they originated in Japan!

A few years back, an article appeared in the New York Times explaining exactly how the fortune cookie was brought over to America and introduced in Japanese bakeries. Their production shifted into Chinese hands sometime around World War II, possibly as a result of many Japanese-Americans being forced into internment camps and thus closing up shop. From there, the cookie and its popularity quickly spread across the country, the continent, and many corners of the world. Ironically, however, the dessert never made it back into China, the country with which fortune cookies are most associated.

Of course, even within Japan these cookies are not common fare. Rather, they are a local specialty, found predominately in the area around Kyoto, a region known for its many temples and shrines. If you’re visiting the area, be on the lookout for some traditional, fortune-filled pastries! Be careful, though, because in Japan not all fortune slips are good. If you find yourself with a bad fortune, we suggest you follow the local customs and tie it to a pine tree to keep the bad luck from attaching itself to you.

Source: Entabe