Have you ever wondered where the Fortune Cookie originated? Who invented the crisp confection that’s become ubiquitous in most Chinese restaurants today? Well, you aren’t the only one! Without much ado, let’s crack open the intriguing history of the fortune cookie.

The two prominent theories of its origin

The fortune cookie as we know it today was supposedly invented by a Japanese immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara who oversaw the Japanese Tea Gardens round 1895 until a racist mayor fired him from his job. Hagiwara was reinstated as the caretaker and sometime between 1907 and 1915, he started serving visitors Fortune Cookies made by a San Francisco bakery, Benkyodo.

The cookies had a ‘thank you’ note placed inside them which is believed to be Hagiwara’s way of thanking the public for getting him rehired as the overseer.

Meanwhile, David Jung, a Chinese immigrant and the founder of Los Angeles’ Hong Kong Noodle Company claims that he invented the cookies in 1918. Jung stated that he used to hand out the fortune cookies, which contained a tiny note with inspirational passages from the Bible, on the streets for free.

In 1983, the San Francisco Court of Historical Review held a mock trial to settle the issue for once and for all. The Court sided with Hagiwara and ruled that San Francisco is the birthplace of the fortune cookie, notes thespruce.com.

A Japanese cracker called a Tsujiura Senbei is widely believed to be the origin of the modern-day fortune cookie.

These crackers contained an “omikuji” or the ‘fortune slip’ and were sold in shrines and temples across many regions of Japan.

So how did the fortune cookie become so popular in the U.S?

“The cookie's path is relatively easy to trace back to World War II. At that time they were a regional specialty, served in California Chinese restaurants, where they were known as "fortune tea cakes",” explains a New York Times article.

According to various fortune cookie makers, the soldiers returning home from the Pacific Ocean Theater asked their local Chinese restaurants why they didn't serve fortune cookies.

Soon the distinctive dessert gained popularity across America and by the late 1950s, approximately 250 million fortune cookies were being produced annually by dozens of small Chinese bakeries and fortune cookie companies.

“Although they are served almost exclusively in Chinese restaurants abroad, fortune cookies are almost unknown in China. Places that serve them call them "Genuine American Fortune Cookies”, Weird Facts points out.

Today, a whopping three billion fortune cookies are made each year in the U.S, states a Fox News report. A New York-based company called Wonton Food Inc. bills itself as the largest manufacturer of fortune cookies. The company produces 4.5 million cookies every day.