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Wonton Food Inc.
If you've ever cracked open a fortune cookie, there's a good chance you might have encountered the wit of 68-year-old Donald Lau.
Donald Lau has worked for Wonton Foods since the 1980s, when it was just a small noodle company in Chinatown; as the organization grew and production increased, he took over writing the fortunes for the cookies. Lau plans to retire from the Chief Fortune Writer position at the end of this ear, so the Eater video team sat down with him to learn about the tricks of his trade. But fortune cookie writer Donald Lau's only hope is that the fortune cookie leaves you happy. Talk story about fortune cookie writer Donald Lau... Lottery officials suspected a scam until they traced the sequence to a fortune printed with the digits "22-28-32-33-39-40" and Donald Lau's prediction: "All the preparation you've done will finally be paying off."...
In The News | K.C. Fortune Cookie Factory
Donald Lau, vice president of Wonton Food in Brooklyn, a major supplier for the Washington area, even has fortune-writing contests for schoolchildren.
He got the idea from an art teacher in Richmond. He says students come up with fortunes that are more appealing to a younger generation: "You will never be late for school" and "You will never beat up your sister" and "A good friend will pick you for a team."
Whatever your interpretation of that slip of paper, fortune cookie writer Donald Lau only hopes it leaves you happy.
"I don't think I'm a fortuneteller," Lau says. "I don't think fortune cookies are meant to be like a horoscope. It's a way to end a meal in a Chinese restaurant and be happy when you leave." Lau works as the chief financial officer at Wonton Food Company, the largest manufacturer of fortune cookies in the world. But he has also become the unofficial CFW, or chief fortune writer. Lau has been the sole hired fortune writer since the company acquired fortune cookie factories more than 30 years ago. Finding inspiration from all aspects of life, from taking the subway to participating in business meetings, Lau used to write two or three axioms a day. Due to writer's block and the company's expansion, Lau now writes two or three fortunes a month. "I feel that I will never be able to write the great American novel, but I can write the fortunes," he says. "I am the most read author in the United States." This slowdown of fortune writing hasn't affected production. Wonton Foods has a database of thousands of fortunes, gathered from the ones Lau has written over the years, open submissions and the Internet. Lau says the job was given to him by default, because he spoke the best English when the company was founded. Throughout the years, the company has considered getting other writers, even reaching the interview stage, but Wong says they have not been able to find anyone who has the same cleverness and humor as Lau.
mind Archives - Jeff Hester
The short answers are: Donald Lau, yes and no.
The New Yorker ran a story on Mr. Lau back in 2005. Lau was vice-president of Wonton Food, Inc. where he managed the accounts payable and receivable, negotiated with insurers, and and composed the fortunes that went inside Wonton Food's cookies. It's a role he fell into without intent. The noodle manufacturer he worked for expanded into fortune cookies, buying a plant on Long Island and along with it, it's aging collection of fortunes ("Find someone as gay as you are. read one fortune dating back to the 1940's). Lau was chosen not for his writing ability, but simply because his English was the best of the group.
GUYVILLE - Nuggets of Wisdom & Gifts for Guys
That's a lot of fortunes to compose and Wonton Foods VP, Donald Lau, is the guy in charge of coming up with the "up to 10 word" phrases.
Lau says he keeps a pocket notebook handy to jot down inspiration for fortunes wherever he is but is quickly running out of ideas - he's actually considering hiring a new employee -- "fortune writer."