Almost all Chinese restaurants in America serve the “fortune cookie” after a main course. These sweets have been cooked for over 100 years.
Now the story of this unique dessert can throw a curveball: the main writer of predictions at Wontons Food (the largest manufacturer of the fortune cookie in America) Donald Lau retired in early February. Donald Lau had been written predictions for the last thirty years. Before he had written a hundred messages per year, but during the previous year created only a few dozen. “I have a creative crisis,” says Lau, who was accepted to compose predictions for factory in Brooklyn not because of the writing skill, but because he knew English better than all employees of the company when it was created. Now his place was taken by James Wong, whom the predecessor had been preparing for six months.
There are several interpretations of the appearance of the fortune cookie. Lau likes the one that starts with the Ming dynasty. At that time, people presented each other moon cakes with secret messages. Some scientists assure that the “cookies of happiness” are of Japan origin. In the US, this “Chinese dessert” came in the late nineteenth century, during the California gold rush. Lau says that when he became the writer of predictions in the 1980s, he got a stack of yellowed texts, most of which were similar to horoscopes (“Tomorrow you will meet a new friend”). Today, the predictions are almost not like typical predictions; they are usually sayings that lift people’s spirits.
Sometimes a company holds a competition to essay predictions online and regularly monitoring the reaction of consumers. Different stories happen with predictions, hiding in the cookies. For example, in 2005, Wonton Foods has become the subject of a state investigation after the fact that several people won $19 million in the lottery, pointing out numbers from the flip side of predictions. One deserted wife wrote a complaint that her husband got biscuits predicting an affair on a business trip. And one satisfied customer shared the story about how he got a job after prediction that he would find new opportunities.
But Lau believes that a good message makes people more happy customers. It sounds quite practical from the business point of view. “When visitors open their fortune cookie and read the text, I want them smile and leave the restaurant happy. It means that they will come next week again”, he says.