Have you ever sat in a Chinese restaurant and wondered how the fortune got inside that little golden cookie? It seems like a complex piece of origami, but it really is quite a simple process.
After the fortune cookie went public in America around 1914, people fell in love with the little delicacy. Although stories differ as to exactly who invented the cookie and where, it is agreed that the cookie was born in California and appeared at the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair. A purely American creation, the cookie is not native to China as most think. But what would a Chinese meal be without the crisp goodie to look forward to? After all, we have to find out what our future holds.
So, how do they get those bits of wisdom inside the cookie? Back in the day, workers, such as those at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company, would pour a 3 inch circle of batter onto a pan. It would cook quickly and the worker would pull it off the bake top with chopsticks, place the fortune paper on the cookie, and then, using the chopsticks, bend it into its well-known form. This process became an art form as workers' hands carefully formed the cookies.
It is only relatively recently that the fortune cookie met up with modern technology. In San Francisco in 1974, a man named Edward Louie, Lotus Fortune Cookie Company's owner, devised a machine that could automate the fortune cookie making process. He called his technological advance the Fortune III. His machine used the same basic methods of pouring out a disc of batter and baking it. Only now, the cookies, while still warm, could be picked up by metal pincers, have a fortune laid down on them, and be folded into the classic crescent shape - all in a matter of seconds.
The reason these cookies can be folded when hot is due to the properties in sugar. The batter basically consists of flour, sugar, water and eggs. When heated, these ingredients are malleable for a few seconds before they harden to a shiny, hard surface. Those precious few seconds mean a fortune can be included as part of the treat.
Now, automated machines can fold up to 8,000 cookies every hour. That's a lot faster than the hand done versions. And it's just as well because the demand has grown over the years for this crispy Confucian confection. People are now ordering custom fortune cookies for their weddings, birthday parties, corporate and business events and even as sympathy messages.
They now come in every size from tiny to gigantic. You can order them in just about any flavor you like including chocolate dipped with candy embellishments.
Today's fortunes range from wise sayings to lottery numbers. People are customizing their sayings to include marriage proposals, business logos and just about everything else you can imagine. For a small fee, companies online will insert any saying you want into the cookie of your choice. It's a delightful surprise to see a personalized saying inside a fortune cookie. No other cookie on the planet is considered a bearer of sage advice.
Although few people would list the fortune cookie as the best tasting cookie, it is considered a fun cookie in a class by itself.
Betty Ann Sherman is a mother and a baker of tasty treats. She has a special passion for baking cookies, pies, cakes, and everything wonderful. Check back for updates from Betty on her delicious treat adventures.
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