Even fortune cookie writers suffer from writer’s block. While this sounds like just the sort of phrase that would appear on a cookie fortune, it actually describes the real-life situation of America’s most prolific fortune cookie writer, Donald Lau.
After 30 years of working as the “Chief Fortune Writer” at Wonton Food Inc., one of the largest fortune cookie producers in the world, Donald Lau touts himself as the “most read author in the United States.” He may be right too—at his most productive, Lau was creating 100 new fortunes every year. However, the widely read writer is now putting down his pen after a bout of writer’s block. Ironically, everyone from Time to CNN has covered Lau and his writer’s block, prompting one to consider fortune cookies as more than just an afterthought—or an after-dinner snack.
At Wonton Food Inc., fortune cookie writing is serious business. The Brooklyn-based company has sourced fortunes from fortune-writing contests, online submissions, and since the ’80s, its sole hired fortune writer, Lau. Recently, however, a push for more inspirational, wellness-promoting fortunes has left Lau coming up blank, producing just two to three new fortunes a month. The company has interviewed other writers but hasn’t found anyone who possesses Lau’s brand of humor and cleverness. This unique issue has prompted many to fear for the future, or fortune, of the company.
It appears Lau and Wonton Food Inc. have landed on a solution: if they can’t find a writer who thinks like Lau, they’ll have to train one to do so. Under Lau’s tutelage, James Wong, a nephew of the company’s founder, will take over the writing role. Meanwhile, longtime employee Lau will trade fortunes for figures as the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Wonton Food Inc. will continue to produce 4.5 million cookies each day, and that is all of our good fortune.