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Misfortune with no fortune in my fortune cookiePosted Monday, April 23, 2012, at 1:04 PM
Sometimes even fortune cookies throw you a curveball.
On a weekend visit to a Chinese food establishment in West Lafayette, I excitedly unwrapped one of those rather non-tasty fortune cookies after a very scrumptious meal, only to be somewhat disappointed.
I hastily cracked open my cookie, unrolled the small white paper with the red ink letters and read: "Some fortune cookies don't contain fortunes."
What kind of a fortune is that?
I thought, is this some kind of Oriental joke or something?
I was prepped for something more uplifting or encouraging, only to read that on this particular night my fortune was no fortune at all.
I was expecting the more usual fortune cookie advice or salutation such as:
* A smile is your personal welcome mat.
* A person of words and not deeds is like a garden full of weeds.
* A pleasant surprise is waiting for you.
* Accept something that you cannot change, and you will feel better.
I'm really glad I didn't get that same fortune a week earlier just before I strapped into a seat aboard a Frontier Airlines airbus for a return trip to Indiana after a great Easter holiday visit with family in southern California.
Good fortune was needed and plenty of prayers to get this flight-skittish guy back on the ground safely.
The final leg of that flight was anything but pleasant as our plane was tossed back and forth, up and down, side to side through most of the very bumpy and turbulent trip from Denver to Indianapolis.
I can tell you, walking off that flight I can easily say it was good to be "Back Home in Indiana."
Back to Saturday night, I was indeed miffed by my lack of a cookie fortune and that sent me to Google to find out a little more about the origin of these little cookies.
Several stories exist on just how the fortune cookie came to be.
One version claims fortune cookies are an American invention from California and had little or nothing to do with anything Oriental.
One history of the fortune cookie claims that David Jung, a Chinese immigrant living in Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company, invented the cookie in 1918. Concerned about the poor he saw wandering near his shop, he created the cookie and passed them out free on the streets. Each cookie contained a strip of paper with an inspirational Bible scripture on it, written for Jung by a Presbyterian minister, according to the website Infoplease.com .
Another history from the same website claims that the fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara. Hagiwara was a gardener, who designed the famous Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. An anti-Japanese mayor fired him from his job around the turn of the century, but later a new mayor reinstated him. Grateful to those who had stood by him during his period of hardship, Hagiwara created a cookie in 1914 that included a thank you note inside. He passed them out at the Japanese Tea Garden, and began serving them there regularly. In 1915, they were displayed at the Panama-Pacific Exhibition, San Francisco's world fair.
There are a couple of other stories about its origin, but all point to the fact that the fortune cookie is probably of American origin.
Other early fortune cookies featured sayings from Confucius, Aesop, or Benjamin Franklin. Later, fortunes have included recommended lottery numbers, smiley faces, jokes and simple advice.
I guess my personal fortune cookie misfortune on Saturday night was a good reminder of the words of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-born American industrialist, businessman, and philanthropist, who once said sometimes the first man gets the oyster and the second man gets the shell.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be contacted by telephone at 847-4487 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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