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In Which Country Were Fortune Cookies Invented?

Where did fortune cookies come from?

While many Americans associate these fortune cookies with Chinese restaurants and by extension, Chinese culture, they are actually an American invention.

However, as far back as the 1870's, some confectionary shops near Kyoto, Japan carried a cracker with the same folded shape and a fortune tucked into the bend instead of its hollow inside. It's called the “tsujiura senbei,” or “fortune cracker," according to Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food.

The Japanese cracker was made differently - larger and darker, made with sesame and miso instead of vanilla and butter like fortune cookies found in modern Chinese restaurants in America.

Fortune cookies likely arrived in the United States along with Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii and California between the 1880's and early 1900's - after the Chinese Exclusion Act’s expulsion of Chinese workers left a demand for cheap labor.

Bakers set up shop in places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, making miso and sesame flavored fortune cookie-type crackers among other baked treats.

Plenty of sources have come forward throughout time claiming to have invented the vanilla and butter flavored fortune cookie that we all have come to love enjoying after our takeout meals, but the first known U.S restaurant to serve the treat was Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.


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