Fortune Cookie? More Like Observation Cookie! Or, My Search For A Fortune Cookie That Has The Chutzpa To Make An Actual Prediction…

Did you know Fortune Cookies were invented by an Asian American immigrant in the early 1900s? Of course, back then, Fortune Cookies had actual fortunes. None of this “you have a nice disposition” bullshit. What kind of fortune is that? Don’t waste my time with nice dispositions. I expect more from a fortune cookie, and you should too. 

Two men claim to be the fortune cookie’s inventor. In 1914, Makato Hagiwara, a Japanese immigrant in San Francisco, put thank you notes inside cookies he gave to people who visited his Japanese Tea Garden. Hagiwara had recently been rehired at the Tea Garden after being fired by a racist mayor, and he wanted to express his gratitude. 

Four years later, the owner of the Hong Kong Noodle Company, a Chinese immigrant in Los Angeles named David Jung, began serving cookies containing inspirational quotes.

Sounds to me like Jung’s inspirational cookies were influenced by Hagiwara’s gratitude cookies. Regardless, all that gratitude and inspiration morphed into the cookies we know and love today. But Fortune Cookies seem to have lost their way. 

When’s the last time you got an actual fortune? I don’t want an Observation Cookie. I don’t want a Fact Cookie. I don’t even want a Compliment Cookie. I want a cookie to predict a future I might not have known if I hadn’t cracked open that brittle cookie shell. 

Of course, you can’t just make up a fortune. Fortunes require information about the person receiving it. So we fed several thousand headlines from American newspapers into a recurrent neural network, which used that data to create the most scientifically-based fortunes possible. 

Gleek is happy to reprint a random sampling of these computer-generated fortunes. 

You will be murdered. 

Whoa, that’s an intense fortune, computer. And kinda vague. But it’s a fortune. I’ll keep my eye out. Thanks, Fortune Cookie. 

You will be murdered in a mass shooting.

Damn. More specific. But not surprising. After all, the year isn’t even over and there have been more mass shootings in America than days of the year. This is terrible, but I get it. Thanks for the heads up, Fortune Cookie. 

You will be murdered in a mass shooting at a mall. 

Okay, I’ll avoid malls. This fortune sucks, but I can do something about it and just avoid malls forever. That’s easier than trying to enact even the most basic, commonsense gun control laws, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it? 

You will be murdered in a mass shooting at a theater. 

Wait, which one, Fortune Cookie? A mall or a theater? I should avoid both? And do you mean movie theaters or do I have to avoid Broadway shows too? 

You will be murdered in a mass shooting at a school, or a church, or any other public place.

Okay, fine. I won’t leave the house.

You will be murdered in a mass shooting by a white man.


You will be murdered in a mass shooting by a white man who –

You know what, I don’t want to hear these fortunes anymore. They’re very depressing. 

Typical, cisgendered white male response. 

Yes, I know, Fortune Cookie. But I use the #GunControlNow hashtag every time there’s a mass shooting – 

You think a hashtag will solve anything?

It puts pressure on our politicians – 

They don’t care about hashtags. They’ve got their sweet NRA blood money. 

Then what am I supposed to do?

You will do more to fight the politicians who are owned by the gun industry. Figure it out. 

Okay, that’s a fortune. I guess. I can do more.

Don’t SAY IT, DO IT. 


Look, if you were a trans woman of color, your fortune would be even more dire. So use your privilege and do something. 

I hear you, Fortune Cookie.

And there you have it, Gleeksters! What does YOUR fortune cookie say?

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