The Voice of Fortune Cookies

America’s Top Fortune Cookie Writer is Quitting


Fortune cookies, photo courtesy of The Huffington Post

Janet Han, Photojournalist

Who would be considered the most-read author in America? The answer is a name that few people recognize. Donald Lau, official fortune cookie message writer for the largest fortune cookie producer in the United States. This producer is known as Wonton Foods, and is estimated to produce around 4.5 million fortune cookies on an yearly basis. For the last thirty years, the little cookies with strips of paper that predict our futures have been mostly written by one man.


However, recent events have lead to the end of this amazing legacy. This man, Donald Lau, has finally decided to put down his pen for writing the often cryptic or funny messages. The reason is one that writers around the world are familiar with- Lau has a severe case of writer’s block.


Thirty years ago, when Donald Lau first arrived in America to find a better life working at a factory, he was assigned the role of official fortune cookie writer for solely one reason. It was not his brilliant writing skills or popularity that earned him his position. Rather, it was because he was the best at English among the workers.


In this way, Lau went on writing for years, usually writing at the very least a hundred messages per year. But his recent failure to meet his own quota has lead him to finally give up the position. A recent interview with Lau in Time reveals the truth, as Lau says “I used to write 100 a year, but I’ve only written two or three a month over the past year.” This tragic change in productivity is the reason that messages written by Lau will soon be a thing of the past.


But the author is not going to completely retire. Donald will continue as Wonton Food’s Chief Financial Officer, a position that shows that he is far from being solely a writer. Meanwhile, fortune cookies are going to retain their entertaining messages. Lau has already been in the process of training a successor to take his place. James Wong, the nephew of the CEO of Wonton Foods, is set to completely take over his mentor’s role over the course of a few months or years.
Fortune cookies are going to see a new era of messages, but Donald Lau will never be forgotten for the service he has provided for the last thirty years. Million across America can agree with Eliana Shim (9), when she says,

“reading a fortune from a fortune cookie is my favorite way to finish a meal.”

Generations of families have read Lau’s work, the official most-read author in the United States.