Outrageous Fortune

Have a cookie
Have a cookie

I’m not a fan of Chinese food. Never was. Years ago, when my parents and older sister noshed on moo shu pork, I was served scrambled eggs with a side dish of threats:

“If you say our food smells like poop one more time,” Mom announced, “I’m going to make you eat it.”

But I always liked fortune cookies — not for the taste, which was, at best, meh, but for the secret message. Opening one always made me feel like a spy.

“Here is a message from my contact,” I thought. “Now I will know where to find the microfilm!”

So, poop smell or no, as least I could look forward to that.

I bring this up because there has been some fortune cookie news that has recently come to my attention. Some parents complained about the fortunes they received. These fortunes, they asserted, were “suggestive” and inappropriate for children.

Here is an example of one such suggestive fortune:

“One who admires you greatly is hidden before your eyes.”

Shocking, I know. I hope my blog dosn’t lose its “G” rating.

Complaints like this don’t surprise me. Some people’s lives are defined by being outraged. So this kind of stuff is par for the course.

Wonton Foods, the world’s largest fortune cookie baker and the target of this parental outrage, responded to the complaint. In a public statement, the company announced that, from now on, it would no longer print fortunes of a romantic nature.

This didn’t surprise me either. All things considered, who cares if the “You will meet a tall, dark stranger,” fortunes go missing?

But then Wonton Foods said something that did surprise me. The company vowed that its new fortunes “[will no longer] upset a single person.”

What bothers me about the above statement — aside from the fact that it is ludicrous and unobtainable — is that the company is giving itself permission to be bland. I offer as proof an actual fortune that will be found in the new and improved Wonton Foods cookie:

“You make every day special.”

Thanks, Barney the Dinosaur!

Oh, and congratulations, Wonton Foods, for you have already failed the Won’t-Upset-A-Single-Person Test, for I am offended by your fortune’s lameness.


OK, I’m done with the snarkiness.

Listen, Wonton, I understand your position. I do. I understand why you decided to remove the romantic fortunes. I think it is absurd that you were pressured to do so, but I get it.

But you will never not offend all of the people all of the time. The world is full of nutty people and there is no way to anticipate what will set them off. Could you have ever predicted the firestorm that accompanied, “One who admires you greatly is hidden before your eyes?” See my point?

So please put that ‘not offending anyone” idea out of your mind right now. Instead, take solace in knowing that, by employing good taste and common sense, you can avoid offending most people. That’s good enough.

And when more complaints trickle in – and they will – deal with them on a case-by-case basis, apologize freely, and move on.

Food for thought.
A real fortune I received. Food for thought.

That said, there is a silver lining here, Wonton. Why not use your new “No Romance” policy to try something different and exciting? The most creative solutions often emerge when creators are confronted with barriers and restrictions.

Your new fortunes could be enigmatic. They could offer genuine insight. Be witty and wise. Ask a soul-searching question that can serve as a conversation starter.

You could actually use your cookie to provide an after dinner morsel of profundity. How cool is that?

Please contact me, Wonton. I’d love to hear what you think. I’m easy to spot; I’m the guy eating scrambled eggs.

Commenters! My wonderful, creative commenters!

Do you have a fortune you would like to pitch to Wonton Foods? Write it below! Show the fine folks at Wonton how it’s done!

65 Replies to “Outrageous Fortune”

  1. If there’s no tall/dark/handsome fortunes left, I’m never eating wonton soup again. Or eggs. Lottery tickets are so unsatisfying because you just lose or, well, lose. But those titillating fortune cookies offered a girl hope and some Friday nights watching bad TV and eating rice that I never realized smelled like poop (but I’m sure I’m desensitized after years of picking up after my dog) a good fortune cookie could go along way. Thanks for bringing this key issue to everyone’s attention. I’m penning a letter to my senator as soon as I have a good cry.

      1. Too late. Three boxes of Kleenex already and my bologna sandwich smells like poop. I’m not reading your blog anymore today. You just go eat some eggs, you food odor spoiler! 🙂

  2. I think political correctness has gone too far when a fortune cookie company chooses to be censored..so as not to offend. What next?

    I happen to like positive prophetic fortunes and will from time to time save the ones that inspire me to move into a certain direction or validate one that I’m heading into. The day before I met my husband, I got one of those romantic fortunes…and it worked out quite well for me…I’m a believer…or a dreamer, which ever fits best.

    Two recent ones that I kept (in my wallet) are, “A quiet evening with friends is the best tonic for a long day.” It fits my mindset and lifestyle. The next, ” Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” That one is a real goal oriented one which emphasizes that people need to do something in order to have lucky things happen to them…preparation always involves doing.

  3. It’s sad that a big corporation has kowtowed to one individual who took an innocuous ‘fortune’ and turned it into something evil. Like they say, you can’t please all of the people all the time. If they want better ideas for fortunes, maybe they should check out Pinterest! lol

  4. I like this line from your post: Some people’s lives are defined by being outraged. And, I thought one was always supposed to test the veracity of a fortune by adding “in bed.”

  5. I should be outraged that you think “moo shu pork” is Chinese food, but I’m too busy laughing! 😉 I’m often amazed at what people get in a knot about. Getting mad is so bad for one’s health.

  6. Yeesh! Some people are afraid of their own evil minds.

    I live my life by fortune cookies, or at least the ones I (all too often) eat for breakfast, and I’ve never received one that I couldn’t share with my kids.

    A secret admirer doesn’t need to be suggestive of anything other that the possibility that a shy classmate would like to sit with you at lunch. I’d skip the offensensitivity unless it says, “Someone secretly wants to lick your ankles.”—though if your neighbors have a dog, that one still might be perfectly innocent.

    It’s all contextual.

    And i would love to explore the context of one that said, “You will get a three-book deal, Sarah.. Send your first three chapters to [agent] at [address]. She’s waiting.”

  7. The surefire way to parental approval:

    “Cleaning your room will bring you seven happinesses, one for each day of the week.”

    “Flushing the toilet will bring you tidal waves of good fortune.”

    “Taking a shower will offend no one’s good senses.”

    I could go on, but I’m now thinking that this plan may backfire, sending rice grower stocks plummeting and ensuring an overall downturn in the take-out food marketplace as children boycott all cuisines associated with poopy fortunes.

  8. I started wondering what company my local Chinese restaurant used for their fortune cookies. So, I looked in my refrigerator and to my delight there sat, on the door shelf, one fortune cookie. I grabbed it looking to see who made it, Dah Sing Noodle Co., located in Stone Mountain, GA. Then I cracked it open to see what my fortune would be, romantic or bland. Not sure what to make of it but it could be a good conversation starter, “You will step on the soil of many countries”. Also, on the back, I’m given these lucky numbers: 2, 4, 14, 19, 36, 40. I think this tops the new vision of Wanton Food’s fortunes, what do you think?
    FYI, I didn’t start eating Chinese food until my mid twenty’s, beginning with the Sweet and Sour Chicken (glorified chicken nuggets with orange sauce on the side)! 😀

    1. I second Mamabeana – Sweet and Sour Chicken is the gateway drug to Chinese Food. Or maybe that’s what the fortune cookies do – lure you into the sordid world of Chinese Food with a delightfully-crunchy-sweet-I can’t-put-my-finger-on -the-flavor cookie.
      Also shame on those parents for not being able to explain away fortunes. A tall, dark stranger could be Voldemort or Shaq.

      1. I don’t even want to imagine how many bear maulings the Wonton company is going to be responsible for with this obvious early warning system removed.

    2. Though much better than “You make every day special,” “You will step on the soil of many countries,” doesn’t do it for me.

      How about, “The soil of many countries will be tracked through your living room. Consider a Roomba.”

  9. The best fortune ever received: an 8-1/2-month pregnant me, enjoying Chinese food with friends, cracked open her fortune cookie to read “You will soon be enjoying the fruit of your labor.” Three weeks later, my daughter was born! xoxoM

  10. “If you read more, you will write more.” (a great fortune for writers)
    “If you love more, you will be loved more.” (a great fortune for all)
    Sorry, getting read for work and these are the fortunes that pop in my head before I pop into the shower.
    Oh. Maybe, ‘If you shower more, you will be loved more” ?? (nah, never mind…)
    TO WONTON FOODS: “If you try to please everyone, you will please no one.”

  11. I’m often disappointed with fortune cookie fortunes. A fortune is supposed to predict something about what’s going to happen to you isn’t it? But sometimes they just seem to be bland musings on life. I’ve written some for you, or for the Wonton company, as requested…

    ‘You are being watched, don’t look up from this slip of paper until I have left’

    ‘Tomorrow is when it is going to happen. You’ll know what it is when it happens. If not, then it’s the next day’

    ‘You really shouldn’t have eaten that chicken’

    ‘The next stranger that catches your eye in the street is a long lost relative. Embrace them warmly’

    ‘If you want to win the lottery, you must first wear fortune cookies as ear-rings for a month’

  12. Maybe the cookie company could outsource to you guys! Some of these have been great!
    BTW- Why didn’t you mention the B&N appearance here? (Thursday, April 18 5:00pm Barnes & Noble in Springfield, NJ). Come support Mike supporting educators!

  13. That’s ludicrous, it sounds like something the E.U. would bring in in the UK 😉
    There you see, I don’t mind offending people boo ha ha!

    ‘wanton something fast, hot and fruity? Plum pudding new on menu’ 😉 Hope that doesn’t affect your G rating either lol.

  14. This just proves that anything, literally anything, will offend someone. It’s good to make an effort to avoid being offensive, but at some point you have to ignore complaints when they clearly originate from…um…unbalanced?…sources. Oh dear. Now I’m being offensive…

  15. I think everyone who commented covered it all–outrage over the outraged loonies among us, good fortune ideas, and support for your blog. I love both your creativity and writing. Your fortune cookie should read: “He who writes about the small things in life tells the truest story.” Thanks for my Friday morning day brightener.

      1. Thanks for asking! I have reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus now, and received the final on the book cover yesterday (thank goodness they amended it to look less like a spiritual and more like a murder mystery). The book launches in June and I’m hoping for some decent sales because I have a big family, and they all promised to buy a copy. We’ll see.

        BTW: I set my following for a weekly review of your blog. Is Friday the best day for this, or do you publish on a different day?

      2. That’s fantastic, Liesa! This book is your first, right? If so, you are off to an amazing start; PW didn’t bother to review my book. Are you setting up a book tour?

        And to answer your question, I post here every Sunday. But, hey, you are welcome to comment here whenever you want!

  16. The world has gone MAD. We aren’t allowed to do anything any more for fear of upsetting someone. I love Chinese food. Not so bothered about the fortune cookie. Even less so now. Great post.

      1. Absolutely. This is a worldwide phenomenon. We have bizarre health and safety issues where we don’t seem to be allowed to do anything any more.

        I tell you, we’ll not be allowed to go swimming soon as we might drown, or congregate in groups in case we accidentally smother someone.

  17. They could use twists on famous quotes and poems, like:

    “Take the path less traveled by…and THAT will make all the difference.” LOL

    I seriously can’t believe they promised not to upset anyone. That’s like promising to control the weather. 🙂

Join the conversation! We're all friends here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: