Carolyn Nardiello of the NY Daily News tells us where fortune cookies come from: "The next time you eat Chinese food, chances are the fortune cookies that complete the meal began their journey in a nondescript building in Long Island City, Queens. Wonton Food pumps out 4.5 million of the crunchy, message-bearing treats every day from its 70-worker plant on 37th St., near Greenpoint Ave. It is the largest fortune cookie maker in the nation, with equipment rumbling around the clock."
No, the fortunes aren't actually Chinese proverbs (the article says they're written by "moonlighting grad students"; yes, the lucky numbers are random and picked by computer (but they're printed on multiple fortunes, which makes for interesting lotteries); and no, there are no fortune cookies in China as they were invented in San Francisco early last century. Wonton Food "tried to market fortune cookies in China in the early 1990s, even setting up a factory there. But it didn't catch on, and they pulled out after a year." The founder's nephew Derrick Wong says, "Most of the people in China never even heard of fortune cookies."
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