IF: Fortune Cookie, a San Francisco Discovery

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The Fortune Cookie is a delicate, crisp cookie made from flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk which is baked around a fortune, a piece of paper with words of faux wisdom or vague prophecy. In the United States it is usually served with Chinese food as a dessert. The message inside may also include a list of lucky numbers (used by some as lottery numbers) and a Chinese phrase with translation. Despite conventional wisdom, they were actually invented in California.


San Francisco and Los Angeles both lay claim to the origin of the fortune cookie. Makoto Hagiwara of Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is said to have invented the cookie in 1909,[1] while David Jung, founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company in Los Angeles, is said to have invented them in 1918.[2]

San Francisco's Court of Historical Review ruled in 1983 in favor of San Francisco. Although the court was presided over by a Federal judge, the court itself has been criticized as being less than serious and biased in favor of San Francisco. Its conclusions, therefore, might not be the final word on the subject.