On The Week, Karina Martinez-Carter explains how the messages in fortune cookies are made and how their existence is -- unsurprisingly -- missing from China. Best of all, that "Fortunes also are tweaked based on client feedback. 'You will meet a tall, dark stranger' was removed from circulation when people complained they found it sinister."
The founders of Wonton Food and Yang's Fortunes both started off focused on other Chinese cuisine products. But each recognized the growing demand for fortune cookies and their baked-in aphorisms, and capitalized on it.
In 2005, The New Yorker profiled Donald Lau, who at the time was vice president of Wonton Food, Inc. and the person writing the fortunes. Lau scribbled off fortunes in between his other duties, gleaning inspiration from wherever he could find it like signs in the subway, as The New Yorker recounts. Since then, the company has brought on freelance writers to supplement Lau's output of adages.
Lisa Yang, vice president of Yang's Fortunes and daughter of founder Steven Yang, fell into writing fortunes, as well. When her father expanded into printing fortunes, he hired a writer to translate Chinese proverbs. Because cultural context was lost in translation, they often ended up nonsensical. Lisa Yang would edit them in her free time. In college, she spent a lot of time writing and rewriting the fortunes, even when her father hired a writer and a teacher to assist with the duty. Lisa Yang would read books of quotes for inspiration, and peruse daily horoscopes to get in the mindset to create new messages.
|Soylent Green Crackers: Just Like Grandma Used to Taste|
|Pork Industry in Panic as Pigs Catch the Flu|
|App Let's You Pick a Restaurant, Handling Reservations and Payment on Your Behalf|
|Oyatsu Break! Reviews of Japanese Snack Food|
|Saving the Florida Orange by Altering its DNA|
|Fake Name Generator|
|“A machine meant to hurl rockets into space.”|
|“Are the puppets coming for our jobs?”|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|What Computers See When They Watch a Movie|
|“Research that could engineer dinosaurs back into existence within the next five to 10 years.”|
|“The only thing worse than assuming that carbon removal will save the day is assuming it will save the day.”|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|Chinese warehouse organises, packs, and fulfills 200,000 orders a day with four people|
|David Reeves' Paper Cutouts Inspired by Classic Cult Movies|