There are several schools of thought as to the origin of the fortune cookie, which, despite what you may have been led to believe, did not originate in China but was invented by Japanese immigrants in California.
In the 1890s, Makoto Hagiwara of San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden is said to have been the first person to serve the fortune cookie as we know it today. In Los Angeles, however, David Jung of the Hong Kong Noodle Company claimed to have created the cookie in 1918. It’s really hard to say, since both were based on existing Japanese recipes.
The mystery surrounding the cookie does not end there. Somehow, the cookie became the exclusive province of Chinese restaurants in America, though no one is really certain how that got started either. Though introduced somewhere around the turn of the century as a Japanese-American snack, the fortune cookie became a Chinese-American food staple sometime around World War II. One theory postulates that the forcible internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during the Second World War left the market for fortune cookies wide open, allowing Chinese manufacturers to fill the void. This column just went to a dark place.
But no matter its history, the fortune cookie is a crunchy and deliciously unreliable source of wisdom deserving of its very own holiday. Though, on Thursday, Sept. 13, Fortune Cookie Day is the same date as Defy Superstition Day, so you’re going to have to pick one I guess. It’s also National Peanut Day.
As September descends upon us, it’s fresh autumnal chill carrying the sweet bouquet of freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils, you may find yourself mourning the passing of summer’s airy insouciance, whatever that means. But have no fear, reader. The month is full of useless days honoring random foods and equally random behaviors. Wednesday, Sept. 5, for example, is a day of gluttonous indulgence, being both Cheese Pizza Day and Be Late for Something Day. On Sept. 6 we are rudely whipped into shape with Fight Procrastination Day. Date Nut Bread has a national day on Sept. 8.
Sept. 11 is 9/11 Remembrance Day. (Which, according to holidayinsights.com is to be commemorated by…canning vegetables? If you say so.) It’s also Make Your Bed Day. Never forget.
Chocolate Milk Shake Day is on Sept. 12. We celebrate National Cream-Filled Donut Day on Sept. 14, National Apple Dumpling Day Sept. 17, National Cheeseburger Day Sept. 18, and National Butterscotch Pudding Day Sept. 19.
The month of September itself honors blueberry popsicles, chicken, honey, self-improvement, square dancing, and better breakfasts. Kudos to you if you can put all of those things in a single recipe.
We want a bite! Send your local cuisine related news to firstname.lastname@example.org. Arts Editor Anna Weltner compiled this week’s column.