Food with Thought: The Wit and Wisdom of Chinese Fortune Cookie

Food with Thought: The Wit and Wisdom of Chinese Fortune Cookie

Insight emerges when you least expect it, and inspiration surfaces in surprising shapes and sizes—like a tiny scrap of paper tucked inside an after-dinner treat. If you’ve ever held the remains of a fortune cookie in your hands, you know the varying levels of bizarre and brilliant that encapsulate the wide array of one-liners.

In Food with Thought, prolific author Edward Mickolus presents 2,230 fortunes, collected from friends and family over the past fifty years, which he organizes into six categories, including advice, personal qualities, and predictions.

Whether you’re looking for a motivational quote, life advice, or just a funny phrase, this comprehensive compilation has plenty of quips and sayings to please everyone, making it a great gift idea.

Perhaps you need to hear that “your skill and confidence are an unconquered army,” or be reminded that though “movies have pause buttons, friends do not.” Whatever you seek, chances are good that you will find it in these pages.

To create his twenty-seventh book, Food with Thought, Dr. Mickolus bugged his friends and family for more than fifty years to save their fortunes from great meals they ate. (But if you think his compilation of 2,230 fortune cookie aphorisms is impressive, wait until you see his 1,700 fashion-challenged neckties!)

  • Title ‏ : ‎ Food with Thought: The Wit and Wisdom of Chinese Fortune Cookies
  • Authors ‏ : ‎ Edward Mickolus
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wandering Woods Publishers
  • Publication Date ‏ : ‎ May 10, 2015
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 202 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1508796734
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1508796732
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5 x 0.46 x 8 inches

Mentioned in “Celebrations” Florida Writers Association The Florida Writer August 2015, p. 34. 


“This is an extremely comprehensive collection of existing Chinese Fortune Cookies and would make an excellent companion volume to the more original ‘Cookies Of Fortune & Fate’ by Simon R. Gladdish.”  –an Amazon UK customer


For my wife, Susan; daughter, Ciana; and David Jung and Makoto Hagiwara, who some believe invented the fortune cookie

            What better way to end a meal—from anywhere—than with a fortune? And not just what appears on the bill! Alas, only American-style Chinese restaurants have made post-meal fortunes into a customer favorite.  At least 99% (you can check the math by digging through this book’s entries if you’d like) are upbeat and positive.

Some say that the American tradition of fortune cookie fortunes was derived from wartime operations.  Back when the Chinese rebelled against the Mongol invaders, they hid notes in moon cakes to keep in contact with each other.  Moon cakes, made from lotus nut paste, were not considered a delicacy by the Mongols, so the messages were safe from prying Mongol eyes.  Other origin stories are less dramatic, attributing the cookies to Japan or to the founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company in California.

Some cookies offer more than a bland taste and a short message.  The other side of the fortune strip can offer suggestions on what numbers to bet in a lottery, and/or teach you a Chinese word of the day, giving the characters, pronunciation, and meaning of the word.  You will not find those add-ons here; I’ll leave those services to a random number generator and a Chinese language course.

Fortune cookie fortunes can be corny, but can sometimes offer great philosophical insight into the human condition.  Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations often are matched by the wisdom of the anonymous writers of these one-liners.  Some of these sentiments can be found on motivational posters; others were perhaps lifted from books of inspirations; still others might have been adapted for or from movies, horoscopes, poems, lyrics, song titles, or seers.   We often read these fortunes aloud in a crowd, but sometimes they might merit solitary pondering.  I’ve edited out most of the typos and malapropisms, except when they were crucial to the message.  Perhaps you will find this book inspirational, motivational, or at least entertaining.

Finally, in no particular order, here are a few of my favorites:

A diamond is a hunk of coal that stuck with it.

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

A scholar’s ink lasts longer than a martyr’s blood.

A single kind word will keep one warm for years.

Do not upset the penguin today.

Don’t kiss an elephant today.

Don’t pursue happiness – create it.

Even the greatest of whales is helpless in the desert.

Failure is success trying to be born.

Failure is the path of least persistence.

It never pays to kick a skunk.

Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.

Never wear your best pants when you go out to fight for freedom.

None of the secrets of success will work unless you do.

So live that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.

Today you shed your last tear.  Tomorrow fortune knocks at your door.

You are an angel.  Beware of those who collect feathers.

Your child will have a generous and loving spirit and be cherished by many.

When you expect your opponent to yield, you should also avoid hurting him.

Wise sayings often fall on barren ground, but a kind word is never thrown away.

Word to the wise: Don’t play leapfrog with a unicorn…

Table of Contents





Personal Qualities



Miscellany and Self-Aware Cookies

Further Reading

About The Author

Further reading