In the “man bites dog” pantheon of unusual pairings to promote public service campaigns, a current standout is the New York-based combo of F.Y. Eye (a nonprofit agency that communicates mission-driven messaging) and Wonton Food, Inc., the world’s largest fortune cookie manufacturer.
When James Wong first encountered fortune cookies, they were ammunition in food fights with other children. Now an adult, he handles fortune cookies with much more care - he's a fortune writer for his family's fortune cookie company - the biggest in the world. Outlook's Colm Flynn went to meet him in New York City.
Donald Lau has worked for Wonton Foods since the 1980s, when it was just a small noodle company in Chinatown; as the organization grew and production increased, he took over writing the fortunes for the cookies. Lau plans to retire from the Chief Fortune Writer position at the end of this ear, so the Eater video team sat down with him to learn about the tricks of his trade.
THE FORTUNE cookie crumbled right for 110 lucky lottery winners. Investigators discovered the $19.4 million prize wasn't the only thing they shared - they all had faith in fortune cookies made in Queens. Lucky numbers printed inside millions of cookies matched five of the six drawn in the Powerball Lottery last month. "We are so excited," said Ho Sing Lee, president of cookie manufacturer Wonton Food
Dozens of workers in white caps supervise the production line at Wonton Food’s factory around the clock, six days a week at the world’s largest producer of fortune cookies. Demand is high. After all, what would dinner at a Chinese restaurant be like if the cookies, with their bits of wisdom and philosophy, didn’t arrive with the bill? The family-owned–and-operated Wonton Food was founded by Ching Sun Wong, 78 and semi-retired, who was born in China’s Guangdong province and came to the United States in the 1960s. Ten years later, he opened Wonton Noodle Co., a basement factory with a shop upstairs, in New York’s Chinatown. After running it for 20 years, he bought a small Chinatown fortune cookie factory. “The equipment was old–fashioned,” says Wonton Food manager Weilik Chan. “We designed and made new machines ourselves.”
Thanks to the Brooklyn-based Wonton Food company, China will soon have fortune cookies. Until now the cookies, which cap off just about every meal served in most of America's 30,000 Chinese restaurants, have been unknown and gone untasted in China. Like hot dogs, pizza and more particularly, chop suey, they are essentially American concoctions.