# You Call Yourself a Fortune Cookie?

How many times has this happened to you? You just finished stuffing your eating hole with sodium-filled Chinese food, when the waitress delivers your bill complete with a psychic-powered cookie. You break it open, toss the cardboard cookie to the side and read, “People appreciate your fun-loving personality.”

If your blood wasn’t now moving at glacial speed, it would boil as you scream, “This cookie is a fucking fake! Why, it’s no fortune at all. It’s a mere statement. A statement! If there’s any justice in the world, everyone working at this buffet will be thrown in jail and forgotten about until the sky fills with fire and magic is real!” Unfortunately for your pancreas, you’ve consumed a weekend’s worth of calories in thirty minutes. So you grunt, loosen your belt, and grab a toothpick on your way out the door.

With the power of mathematics, I’ve taken it upon myself to expose fortune cookie manufacturers’ evil plot to cheat us and find out some neat-o facts along the way.

My friends and I risked our waistlines to collect hundreds of fortunes in the name of statistical accuracy. Next I read them all, placed them in various categories, played Angry Birds to fight off the monotony, and made use of my expensive math degree by taking averages.

FORTUNE VS. STATEMENT

Nerds and Nerdettes, we all have been fed cookies wrapped around lies. Lazy bums sitting at typewriters in sweatshops have tricked us in to believing fate-filled cookies control our lives. However, 70% of fortunes are nothing more than bland, catch-all statements that tell us nothing about our future! How dare you, Chinese confections. When I open these cookies, I expect the comfort of knowing I’ll be a happily married rich man, having grapes lowered into my mouth by models and MIT-designed robots. I do NOT care if someone is speaking well of me. It’s probably just my mother talking to her sister anyway.

THE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE TEST

You are a person of imaginative, yet honest intentions…in bed. Cue the laugh track!

It is widely assumed adding “in bed” to the end of a fortune is as hilarious as a giddy goose. Truth is 88.33% of fortunes are enhanced by shameless sexual humor. The remaining 11.67% sound like a homeless man on Hollywood Boulevard minus the impromptu audition for the screenplay you aren’t writing.

GRAMMATICAL ERRORS

Confucius wannabes, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You are paid, full-time writers. 3.33% of your words of wisdom came in the form of sentence fragments. It may be a low number, but I demand professionalism, dammit. I don’t appreciate being assumed as the subject of a sentence. I’m at least worth a pronoun.

You should be able to make money and hold onto it. Weeeeee! I’m gonna be rich.

Wait a second. Should be? “Should be” does not indicate my destiny. In fact, you’re talking down to me. Who are you to ridicule me for using my hard earned paychecks to repurchase Resident Evil 4 on multiple systems and not buy stock with limit buys? It may not read, “Bad luck and (extreme) misfortune will infest your pathetic soul for all eternity,” but it’s still a dick move. I am a paying customer. Treat me with respect. 6.67% of fortunes belittled me. Your condescending attitude has no place here.

So there you have it. Cover blown, fortune cookie industry. All we want are fake fortunes. It’s not like we’re looking for the meaning of life. Oh. One more thing. Would it kill you to give me the lucky numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42?

As always, comment and/or tweet me!

Image: Doug Belshaw/Flickr

1. Tim says:

But have you ever gotten a fortune in a cookie that turned out true? How do they do that? Like, “you will visit a bathroom soon”, or
“you will die some day” ….freaky.

2. Trude says:

I used to do this rant every time I got a crap “fortune”! Until I got this one from Panda Express one day, and it was so made of WIN it shut me up for eternity: http://twitter.com/recoveringfc/status/15441043236

3. Matthew Burnside says:

@xue – I figured they didn’t come from China, but I had no clue they are not known at all out there. If that’s true, it’s interesting.

@everyone else – Thank you for all the compliments and tweets.

4. Jasph says:

My wife and I have complained about this for years, and in fact, bought several boxes of commercial fortune cookies and pulled as many out as we could without breaking them, replaced them with REAL fortunes (“YOU WILL BUILD A PIG FROM A KIT”) and gave them out at a dinner party.

The best non-fortune cookie ever was one my wife got at a Chinese restaurant in London. It said:

SHARK FIN SOUP–JUST A WONDERFUL SOUP.

That’s when you know the restaurant has started doing it own, as part of a misguided cost-cutting program, and the poor kitchen workers are back there trying to think of quick little bromides, and they have a quota, and somebody’s sitting at the computer saying, really? do I look like a fortune cookie writer? well, fuggit, how about LOOK, THERE’S YOUR FUTURE GETTING ITS ASS KICKED BY SOME TAINTED CRAB, or maybe like, YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD LOOK GOOD ON YOU? MISO. Or how about ARE YOU GOING TO FINISH THAT?

Am I going to finish this? Yes. But I dug your post. Just a wonderful post.

5. Ellie K says:

I’m happy with any fortune that isn’t blank on both sides. Another bad one: Small craft warnings, beware death by water. Maybe that was in T.S. Eliot’s fortune cookie…?

Almond cookies and orange slices are less depressing for me. Nice article!
;@)

6. xue says:

i hope you realise also that fortune cookies are not the work of the Chinese. In China or any part of the world with majority Chinese, does not even know about the fortune cookie.

7. Ryan says:

“The heavy burdens you have been carrying will soon be lifted.”

But they lied.

8. andoran_g33k says:

At least you can use the plastic cookies to fend off rabid dogs

9. Shane says:

lol Doug, that’s awesome!

10. Hurricane Ditka says:

I’VE CALLED THEM “STATEMENT COOKIES” FOR YEARS!!!! WEIRD!!!!!!!

11. Doug says:

I actually got the following fortune in a fortune cookie, and it is currently taped to my monitor at work:
“You are about to become \$8.95 poorer. (\$6.95 if you had the buffet)”
BRILLIANT!

12. Jay Fralick says:

Fun post Matthew. You are wise beyond your years and you will have the opportunity to impact many people’s lives.

13. Wes says:

@Amy if that spelling error is the cookie’s and not yours, That is a gem indeed. Looser…sounds like me after a trip to the burrito truck.

14. Amy says:

The best fortune I’ve seen is “You are the seventh son of the seventh son of a born looser.”

15. hammy says:

I like to end my fortune cookie fortunes and those of my friends by adding to the end:

“…in bed… alone.”

16. Matthew Burnside says:

@Sarah Clark Thanks a bunch to you as well. It is a Rocko’s reference. I’ve been watching it on Netflix. I’m looking forward to your next post.

Great article, Matthew.

The genius in comedy is often the one who says what everyone is thinking. But (s)she systematizes it to the nth degree, to madness. And I think most madness is mostly disappointmentment translated into scary things. Scary funny things.

@Sarah Clark. I must be in great nerd or nerdoid company as I loved that show. And actually have a cel or whatever they’re called hanging on a wall somewhere (sigh). But you’re a better fan than I am. Because I missed it. My favorite episode (“To Heck and Back”) is when Hef goes to Hell and drives the devil nuts on that game show. “Cheese?” “No! No! No!” ”

I was trying to find a quote I couldn’t get right by Googling it, but instead I got “HEF SAYS HELL NO TO KATE GOSSELIN.”

Would we all show such discretion.

18. Sarah Clark says:

Hilarious! And did I spy a Rocko’s Modern Life reference? If so – you just made my day.

19. mRuss says:

I would LOVE to have a fortune cookie with the LOST numbers on it.

20. Anthony says:

some of my faves have been

“Maybe you can live on moon in next century”

“Be patient the Great Wall didn’t got built in an day”