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Pondering the future of fortune cookies in the Year of the Ox

January 26, 2009 |  6:09 pm

Fortunecookie Happy Chinese New Year! Judging by today's grim headlines about the economy, the Year of the Ox is shaping up to deliver a rocky ride. With that in mind, Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez sat down at Hop Woo restaurant in Chinatown with an old friend -- who owns a fortune-cookie factory -- to discuss whether or not fortune cookies are hopelessly out of date.

After pointing out that the crispy, edible repositories of over-simplified truisms were invented in California (of course!), Rodriguez recounts how when his friend Kenny Yee bought the company, he essentially "inherited an inventory of roughly 100,000 little pearls of wisdom. And most of them, he thought, were out of date, irrelevant, a lost opportunity -- bad for business, worse for karma."

These days, Rodriguez figures, are pretty cynical. How can a person come up with fresh fortunes that speak to all of us? He throws out some witty ideas, but mainly feels at a loss. (Click here for the article.)

Reading the story made me think about the cookiefied fortunes that have inspired me to save them for posterity in the past. My favorite one, which is taped to the top of my vanity mirror, says: "You will make a name for yourself." Then there's the little gem I keep in my wallet, "You are loved and needed." And finally, the slip of paper that lives in my jewelry box, "Your talents are great and many."

You get the idea. People love being told that they are important and that what they do counts. I can only imagine that that desire grows more urgent in dark days. So, dear reader: You are important, and you will do great things in the new year.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: David Muronaka / Los Angeles Times