The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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    Who was the mysterious fortune cookie king?

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | October 13, 2008

    Got an email from a reader. Does anyone know who this mogul could have been?

    In the late 1980s and early 90s I worked for a small arts publisher then located on the north side of Spring Street between Crosby and Lafayette in Soho. On the floor below us there was a small, ancient, one-man printing shop with an antiquated single-color (maybe two) color press, a folding machine, a cutter, that’s about it. A dusty relic from pre-fashionable Soho, it was owned and run by a printer who was then, I¹d guess, in his late seventies if not his eighties.

    One of his regular jobs was to print sheets of fortunes for fortune cookies. These were, as I recall, 20×30-inch uncut white sheets of simple black type (must have been at least a hundred fortunes on a sheet), no graphics, no lottery numbers. Every time I was in his shop ‘¹d see stacks of them waiting
    for delivery; it’s the delivery part that¹s interesting. Every so often I’d see a chauffer-driven shiny black Cadillac limousine (maybe a Lincoln) with tinted windows parked on Spring Street in front of the building. The client had come to collect the latest job.

    The client would never enter the building nor set foot in the shop to pick up his order – in fact he¹d never leave the rear seat of his car. The printer would deliver the uncut sheets of fortunes to the car himself and load them into the trunk. (This kind of curbside service is unusual in the trade, to say the least.) He would spend significant time standing at the rolled-down rear window of the car, deferentially (it seemed to me) talking with his client (the fortune cookie king, we called him) who I estimate was
    at least as old as the printer. All I ever saw of the mysterious mogul was what I could glimpse through the rolled-down rear passenger window during these ritual handoffs. Round face, Asian features, slicked back thinning hair, small but heavy stature, always an elegant black business suit, cufflinked white shirt, and (I believe) aviator-style sunglasees. My question: any idea who this could have been?

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