From the taste of them, I always thought those stale fortune cookies you get with your Chinese take-out were, well, made in China. As it turns out, they are an American invention and the vast majority of the three billion made each year are manufactured in United States.
And to be fair, I’ve had some fresher, better-tasting fortune cookies made close to home—in Cleveland!
Based in Eastlake, Good Fortunes, Inc. got its start in 1981 when Gene Yee turned a hobby into a full-fledged manufacturing operation with seven fully automatic ovens. The internal pump pours precisely measured batter, flavored with vanilla, onto small hot grills, where the baking begins. A few moments later, a paper fortune drops onto the golden disks, which are folded with clamps to form their signature shape.
In addition to national distribution and placement at Giant Eagle, Yee will also customize fortune cookies with your own unique fortunes inside. With one crunch of the cookie, people have popped the question, celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, mitzvahs, and quinceañeras, or promoted their businesses.
When the television show Lost was ending in 2010, I served custom fortune cookies that predicted the future of the characters.
The custom-cookie business has fans across the country, too. For a short time, Ray Richmond, an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles, put his writing skills to work in the custom-fortune world after more lucrative jobs dried up.
“I just thought, this is an area of the literary spectrum that really needs punching up,” Richmond told Bob Strauss at the Los Angeles Daily News. “There’s no other use for this ridiculous skill, so thank God I found fortune cookies.”
Using Good Fortunes as his vendor, he started marketing Super Accurate Fortune Cookies, which he claimed were 77% more accurate than regular cookies. His fortunes included sayings such as “You will never be charged with Lincoln’s assassination” or “Breathing comes naturally to you.”
Want to take a crack at writing your own custom fortunes? Visit GoodFortuneCookies.com to place an order. A batch of 500 cookies costs $59 and you can include up to 17 unique messages. Within just a few days, a box of fresh cookies will be delivered to your door. That’s one smart cookie.
— Story and photography by Laura Watilo Blake