Every now and then, when my friends and I want a treat, we will grab something from China’s Best at Lawndale Shopping Center. Over here in my section of town, the place is legendary for its Chinese food, and I would put China’s Best up against any Chinese restaurant in town that isn’t currently advertising in the Rhino.
But the real treat that I always enjoy the most, when it comes to China’s Best or any other Chinese restaurant for that matter, isn’t the succulent sesame sweet and sour Szechuan shrimp or the crispy Cantonese crabmeat creations. Instead, it’s what comes after the food …
The Chinese fortune cookie.
The other day, I picked up a China’s Best order and when I got back to the house there were no fortune cookies in the bag and everyone was like, “Oh no – no fortune cookies?? What the hay?”
We were so disappointed that I drove back to China’s Best and said, “Hey, what’s the deal?”
The China’s Best lady said that fortune cookies do still come with the meals but now you have to ask for them, and then she took handfuls of fortune cookies and gave them to me, and, then, when I got home, everyone had a grand old time opening up the cookies and seeing what their futures held.
In addition, I think the greatest free fun anyone can possibly have in life is using the fortune cookie trick of placing the words “in bed” at the end of every fortune when you read it. Whenever I’m with a group of people at a Chinese restaurant or in a group that got Chinese as take out, I always insist that everyone read their fortune cookie out loud and add “in bed” to it. I don’t ever grant anyone an exception.
It never fails to make the fortunes fun. It changes the saying all around and makes it funny. For instance, if your fortune says “You will have sex tonight” then the new version becomes, “You will have sex tonight in bed.” Or, if it says, “Tonight, you will sleep very soundly,” that suddenly becomes, “Tonight, you will sleep very soundly in bed.”
Sometimes the saying inside isn’t even a fortune – despite the fact that it is called a “fortune” cookie in its very name. Sometimes the cookie is more like an advice cookie. But that’s one thing I really like about fortune cookies, that you absolutely have no idea what you’re going to get. At times, they offer you helpful advice, little nuggets of Chinese wisdom like: “Look before you leap and always remember that he who hesitates is lost.” At other times, they will tell your fortune or give you your lucky numbers. Some of them simply make you think. I heard one time someone got one that just asked the question, “How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?”
But most of the time it predicts the future, such as, “You will be hungry again in one hour.”
I looked on the internet to find out some fortunes and other things people have gotten in their cookies. One guy got this, “It’s about time I got out of that cookie,” which really makes you wonder how old that cookie must have been for the fortune to be saying that.
Some of the internet people were disappointed by the messages they got in their fortune cookies, such as: “The fortune you seek is in another cookie.” Along these same lines, there was also one that said, “I cannot help you, for I am just a cookie.”
Some of the sayings are contradictory. One said, “Avoid unnecessary gambles. Lucky numbers 12, 17, 20, 28, 36.”
One of my favorites was just some Chinese fortune cookie writer being funny: “Help! I am being held prisoner in a Chinese bakery.”
At least, I hope that was someone being funny; if you think about it, it would be really tragic and ironic if it really is a worker being held prisoner in the bakery who’s able to get his pleas for help out to the public but is unable to get anyone to believe that he’s telling the truth because it sounds so much like a fortune cookie joke.
But, like I said, most of the cookies simply have fortunes inside them – thus the name. And those are the ones I’m always the most excited about getting.
Or rather, that is, I was always excited about it until the other night, when I started reading about the history of fortune cookies from Chinese restaurants and I found out something that just blew me away. It totally changed the way I viewed fortune cookies. Here’s what I learned about the cookies.
They are not even from China! They are not some ancient Chinese secret: They were invented in California about a hundred years ago and, unbelievably, they are even sold in China as “American fortune cookies.”
According to the internet, “Rumors that fortune cookies were invented in China are seen as false. In 1989, fortune cookies were reportedly imported into Hong Kong and sold as ‘genuine American fortune cookies.’”
So the whole thing is one giant lie.
That huge revelation got me wondering – given that the whole origin of the fortune cookie industry is a grand deception – whether we should really even put any stock in the fortunes the cookies contain.
Every day of the year, all day long, people all around the world look to Chinese fortune cookies to plan their future and make very important life decisions – whether to marry the woman they took to the restaurant or whether or not to accept that new job offer; you name it – and this made me call into question the entire enterprise.
And when I did some research on it, I could hardly believe what I found. I found that there is absolutely not one shred of scientific evidence that fortune cookies in any way shape or form are predictive of the future. In fact, they are basically as accurate as a thousand monkeys typing out fortunes on a thousand typewriters for an infinite number of years.
In other words, the whole thing is a complete and utter fraud. Here’s something eye-opening I found on this. In case you are wondering whether the following source, Wonderopolis.org, can be trusted – well, it was the very first page that came up when I did a Google search for “How accurate are fortune cookies?”
So I think it’s safe to say it knows what it’s talking about. The italics, which are mine, should give it even more authority in case anyone still doubts what it is saying …
For predicting the future, no, fortune cookies don’t have special powers of foresight. The fortune cookie you open at a Chinese restaurant came into your hands randomly. If it happens to contain a fortune that comes true, it’s just coincidence … If you’re looking for insight into your future, you probably don’t want to place too much importance on a tiny slip of paper from a mass-produced cookie!
So, for me, I’m tossing fortune cookies in the trash and it’s back to the Magic 8 Ball – 1960s prediction machine, here I come. If I remember correctly it was highly accurate though sometimes the reply was hazy and you had to ask again later.
But, at least, when it didn’t know the answer, the Magic 8 Ball admitted it didn’t know rather than, like fortune cookies, going on to spout off a bunch of unfounded positions that are really nothing more than wild guesses from people being held – perhaps against their will – in Chinese bakeries.
In the end, after years of deception on all levels, it turns out that fortune cookies aren’t worth the flour they’re printed in. So remember, no matter how renowned or trusted something is – no matter how accepted or longstanding it is – you absolutely, positively cannot trust it.