The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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    A Chinese entrepreneur introduces Fortune Cookies to China

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | August 26, 2008

    It’s funny to see the the way that people in China react to fortune cookies — with a mixture of confusion and amusement. As part of research for my book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, I went around China handing out fortune cookies to random people (my bellhop, people on the street, vendors) and recorded their reactions.

    Often times, they would put the cookies in their mouth, and then be surprised when they found a piece of paper either in their mouth or in a cookie.

    Fortune cookies are not intuitive. This was confirmed when I was in Beijing and discovered a woman named Nana Shi who was making fortune cookies in China. But she too put instructions on the red wrapper telling people to break the cookie before eating them because they were necessary.

    How to Open A Fortune Cookie

    How to Open A Fortune Cookie

    Otherwise, this is what happens:

    Americans find high emotional attachment to the slips inside their cookies, looking to them for winning lottery numbers and becoming upset when the fortunes inside are unfortunate. The Chinese, on the other hand, would often tell me after trying the curved vanilla-flavored wafers, “Americans are so strange, why are they putting pieces of paper in their cookies?”

    Topics: Chinese Food | No Comments »

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