Fortune cookies for the brave

iLLfortune is an East Bay company that has changed the face of fortune cookies.

I opened a fortune cookie last week expecting the typically vague, silly and overly optimistic drivel. Instead, I got this contemptuous missive: “Prosac is planning a long term relationship with you.” Another said: “The voices inside your head think you’re an idiot.”

Instead of an eye-rolling platitude, I got something interesting that brought a smile instead of a groan.

It seems there’s a new fortune cookie on the block, a bold and wicked treat with sardonic wit and a dose of surprise thrown into the recipe.

It’s called iLLfortune.

East Bay resident David Fenton grew weary of the letdown following Chinese food, so he started the first fortune cookie company not afraid to offend. He calls them “fortune cookies for the brave.”

The idea is spreading, but not yet seen in any Monterey County restaurants, where we get the same old platitudes, such as “meaningful relationships bring meaning to life” or “you are talented in many ways.”

“Clever, original thinkers have no interest in predictable fortunes,” says Fenton. “They crave surprise and wit.”

Fenton, thought: What if those sweet treasures contained something irreverent, mean-spirited or hilariously inappropriate? What if they could actually spark conversation, induce surprise or bring people together in unpredictable ways?

How about:

  • Diapers will be part of your daily regimen and you won’t be the one changing them.
  • Counting sheep is not meant for the purpose of arousal. Get help.
  • Courtney Love will be calling. She wants her personality back.

Chinese New Year approaches on Jan. 23, but fortune cookies were not born in China at all, but in San Francisco around the year 1900. They were introduced by the Japanese, popularized by Chinese restaurants, but ultimately consumed by Americans.

There are approximately 3 billion fortune cookies produced each year around the world, most of them eaten in the United States. The largest manufacturer is Wonton Food Inc., headquartered in Brooklyn.

Now iLLfortune has turned the industry on its ear.

The company’s playful website,, says it best:

  Cookie meet more people. Prank stranger, make friend. You share with friends. Make you likeable. Finally.

iLLfortune cookies come in traditional Chinese takeout containers, in orders from 20 up to 700. And, while the unfortunate messages may make you cringe, the nutritional label won’t. iLLfortune cookies contain no saturated fat and no cholesterol, and one cookie contains fewer than 30 calories.


One thought on “Fortune cookies for the brave

  1. Half the fun of fortune cookies is adding “in bed” or “between the sheets” to the end, then even the most mundane cookies make for a good hearty chuckle. Mine certainly did the other day: The world will look a little better with some love given by you IN BED! But these iLLfortune cookies seem to cut right to the chase, no? (And probably in a more family-friendly way than the X-rated fortune cookies I picked up in Chinatown. I can’t repeat that fortune in polite company!)

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