Fortune Cookie Factory San Francisco | 5 Reasons to Visit

Last Updated on January 3, 2022 | 0 Comments
5 Reasons to Visit the Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco
Last Updated on January 3, 2022 | 0 Comments

San Francisco is known for its unique experiences and is continually buzzing with exciting new adventures. There’s just about something for everyone, but if you’re looking for something off the beaten path, San Francisco’s Chinatown fortune cookie factory is rich in history and culture. 

Tucked down a narrow road, the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco is almost easy to miss. It's a hidden treasure among the hustle and bustle of the infamous Chinatown streets.

Got a sweet tooth? The legendary fortune cookie factory in San Francisco is the perfect place to get a little taste of Chinatown while learning and seeing how fortune cookies are made. The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory makes a great must-see on your next visit for a one-of-a-kind experience. 

Jump to Section

Who Invented Fortune Cookies? History of the Cookie

Despite common misconceptions, fortune cookies aren’t actually Chinese. If you plan on visiting China, don’t ask for a fortune cookie, because quite frankly, they won’t know what it is. The origins of the fortune cookie are highly debated, but the most common story comes from San Francisco. Legend has it that Makoto Hagiwara, the Japanese-American designer most popularly known for the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, is the creator behind the infamous fortune cookie. This is the story that the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco stands behind.

But there are two sides to every story, and Los Angeles claims to have also invented the famous cookie. The founder of Hong Kong Noodle Company in LA, David Jung, also made claims that he invented the cookie back in 1918, while Seiichi Kito, the founder of Fugetsu-do of Little Tokyo also claims his fame at the invention. In 1993, the San Francisco Court of Historical Review attempted to settle the great cookie dispute and ended up ruling in favor of San Francisco’s inventor. 

open palm holding two fortune cookies
via Cozymeal

As the debate may never be settled as to who invented it in America, historical documents show an extensive history of a similar cookie and fortune traditions originating in Japan. Dating back to the 19th century, a very similar cookie was made in Kyoto, Japan, and the Japanese have an ancient temple tradition of random fortunes called omikuji. Differing from the Americanized fortune cookie that we all love today, this Japanese cookie was larger, darker and contains sesame and miso instead of vanilla and butter. However, one similarity is the concept of the fortune tucked inside. The Japanese cookie wedges the fortune in the bend of the cookie rather than the hollowed-out inside and are called tsujiura senbei. They still can be found in some regions and neighborhoods of Japan if you’re willing to hunt for them. 

Regardless, fortune cookies have somehow solidified their status as an iconic American-Chinese sweet. And at the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco, you can delve further into the theories and backstories while indulging in as many cookies — and good fortunes — as you like.

The History of the Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Chinatown fortune cookie factory will stick to their guns that Makoto Hagiwara was the inventor of the fortune cookie. But the building itself holds a vast history. Family-owned and operated, the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco was established in 1962 down Ross Alley in Chinatown. Their freshly baked cookies are cranked out on a traditional and authentic heated rotating griddle wheel, making almost 10,000 a day! 

In addition to the traditional vanilla cookies, the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco makes a variety of exciting flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, green tea and glazed cookies. The city of San Francisco adores the cookie factory so much that in 2016 they officially named Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company a San Francisco Legendary Business. Two years later, they officially declared June 8, 2018, as Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company Day.

Person making fortune cookies at the fortune cookie factory in san francisco
via Cozymeal

5 Reasons to Visit the Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco

1. Educational 

Whether you’re on vacation or a local, the Chinatown fortune cookie factory offers plenty to learn while visiting. The factory tour gives you insight into how complicated this famous cookie is made, and you’ll learn about the origins of the cookie itself. 

2. Stock Up on Souvenirs 

At the end of a trip, bringing back something to share with your loved ones can often be a last-minute hassle. But who doesn’t love a classic treat like a fortune cookie? These fun little cookies are sure to bring a smile to your family and friend’s faces, and the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco offers a rare variety of flavors, shapes and fortunes, of course! These are also an easy item to buy in bulk, most commonly sold by the bag so you can share with everyone. 

hand holding a fortune cookie while reading their fortune
via Unsplash

3. Supporting Local Business

There are so many sightseeing favorites among tourists in the area, but the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco is family-owned and rich with history. Sometimes local finds are the best, and an easy way to give back to a city that has so much to offer is by supporting its communities. Local stores like this one also offer an immersive environment that’s different from the touristy feels of other San Francisco classic sites.  

4. Insta-Worthy Photos

Let’s be honest, this quaint and unexpected shop down a small alleyway in one of San Francisco’s busiest communities is a picture-perfect scene for your Instagram page. Authentic and traditional, there’s something exciting about sharing this experience with others, and between the cookie-stocked shelves, tight corridors and hand-made cookie folding process, you’re bound to get the perfect shot. If you plan on dropping in to snap some photos at the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco, they do charge a 50-cent fee — unless you plan on buying cookies, of course. 

5. The Perfect Date Night 

Dinner and a movie is a classic date idea, but also one that can get boring. If you’re looking for something new, the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco is simply sweet and charming and an experience you won’t forget. Whether it’s your first date or a break away from the kiddos while they’re with the babysitter at home, fresh-baked cookies are a unique treat and a fun little escape from the ordinary.  

freshly made fortune cookies at the fortune cookie factory in san francisco
via Unsplash

How to Visit San Francisco's Fortune Cookie Factory

If you’re looking to pay a visit to the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco, there’s more than one way to embrace its offers. Food tours in San Francisco aim to expose visitors to new and exciting flavors, tastes and foods all while getting an education. A Chinatown and North Beach food tour will feed your spirit of adventure as you taste your way through history at culinary classics in these two famous districts. Not only will you enjoy the famous fortune cookie factory in San Francisco, but you’ll also have the chance to try boba milk tea and traditional dim sum before making your way to North Beach for some Italian classics; a taste of two worlds. 

streets of chinatown, san francisco
via Cozymeal

If you’re traveling with a group or looking for a way to bring your work team together, there are plenty of team building options to enjoy as well. A Flavors of Chinatown and North Beach team building activity will bring everyone together through time and taste, stopping by the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco and ending the tour in lively and exciting Washington Square Park. If you want to explore the depths of Chinatown, the team building event Discovering Chinatown also pays a visit to the fortune cookie factory in San Francisco, while then diving into tea tasting with a tea master and exploring San Francisco’s oldest temple. 

No matter how you visit San Francisco's famous fortune cookie factory, we predict that it will be an experience you won't soon forget.

For even more insight into local history and delicious bites, check out food tours near you happening on Cozymeal.

About Cozymeal

Discover the best in culinary experiences and products on Cozymeal: From in-person cooking classes to virtual cooking & mixology classes to private chef experiences and top-rated cookware — from world-class chefs, mixologists & more.

View All Experiences & Cookware on Cozymeal