Foodie Friday: The Fortune Cookie Writer


Photo credit: LadyFortunes.com

Typical cardboard-tasting fortune cookies at the bottom of Chinese food takeout bags are hardly worthy of dessert. After getting snapped open for the message inside, they are often discarded like emptied soy sauce packets.

That’s not the case with these cookies! Lady Fortunes Inc. is known for its homemade hand-dipped giant fortune cookies spanning 19.5” in circumference. After employees hand-dip the cookies in chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter, they decorate the treats with a variety of toppings – from coconut to sprinkles to M&Ms and Oreos. But most importantly, each cookie includes a fortune inside, customized for holidays and special occasions.

Alex Emeira, one of eight confectionary consultants at Lady Fortunes, calls herself a “fortune tailor” – she works on tailoring the messages for customers’ birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, weddings, and even breakups.

Title: Confectionary Consultant, Lady Fortunes Inc.
Age: 28
In the industry for: 5 years
Based out of: Canoga Park, Calif.
Graduated from: California State University Northridge, degrees in music and business
Previous jobs: Violinist, Starbucks barista, bank teller
Job description in one sentence: I ensure that people are happy with their orders, and help customers customize messages to include in their cookies.

Something people don’t know about your job: When I first started at Lady Fortunes, I suggested printing the messages ourselves to save money. My idea was shot down because the FDA regulates printing to ensure the ink is arsenic-free. I didn’t understand why, but apparently, lots of people eat the cookies intact – with the fortune still inside.

How she got the job: After graduating, the economy sucked. My sister, Daria Artem, who owned Lady Fortunes, asked if I wanted to accompany her to a trade show in New York to talk to customers about the brand and make sales. I impressed her, and henceforth began doing marketing for the company part-time. After a few months, I took the plunge, quit my bank job, and went full-time with Lady Fortunes.

Lady Fortunes offers customized cookies for special occasions and holidays, like the Fourth of July. Photo credit: LadyFortunes.com

A cookie order she won’t forget: People call us to make breakup fortune cookies for their boyfriend or girlfriend. They’ll request messages like, “Confucius says, just like this cookie, our relationship is cracked,” or, “A new girlfriend is in your future, and it’s not me.” One time, it simply said, “I hate your guts. Enjoy this cookie, because this is it.”

Best part of her job: It never gets dull. I love working with people to find a unique, delicious product that fits their budget.

Worst part of her job: The customers that yell and scream and demand their money back. Once, someone listed the wrong address for delivery, and then argued that it was our fault. You need to have a kindergarten teacher’s level of patience.

Where did the company’s name come from? My sister always joked that “Lady Fortune” smiled on her every time she encountered good fortune in her life.

What’s the process behind creating fortunes? We interview customers to find out the story behind the occasion. If it’s for a baby gift, we’ll write something like, “Confucius say, a baby is on the way.”

Is Confucius the go-to? We might also write the customer’s name, like, “Alex says…”

Fortune word limit: Our giant foot-long fortunes typically have 10 lines of text, and our small ones have three lines, with 35 characters on each.

Lucky numbers: Those are based on the customer’s phone number, address, date of a trip, birth date, or baby’s due date [for baby shower gifts].

Cookie recipe: A modified version of Martha Stewart’s.
Price tag: $28.50 for giant fortune cookies; $0.99 for regular-sized ones in bulk.

How did your sister, Daria, get Lady Fortunes off the ground? She worked at a public relations firm in Los Angeles, where her trademark became buying giant fortune cookies for potential clients with personalized messages inside that read, “You’re one smart cookie if you work with Daria.” But they were $40 a pop, so she started making them herself on a tortilla press. The concept of giant fortune cookies with messages inside has been around since the 1960s, but Lady Fortunes is different because we hand-dip and decorate the cookies beautifully.

So she baked the cookies as a side job? That’s how it started. She’d be up baking until 3 a.m. Finally, she was faced with a choice: the marketing business or fortune cookies. So she decided to put all her savings – including those she’d saved up for her wedding – into Lady Fortunes.

Do you recycle old fortunes? There are a few stuck sayings, like “I’m so fortunate to have you in my life,” or, “You’re one smart cookie.” Many are play-offs of those.

What’s your favorite fortune? I made one up for my boyfriend that read, “You’re my sweetest cookie and my greatest fortune.” Now, we use that one for lots of romantic messages.

If you could write a fortune for recent grads, what would it say? Don’t be set on one career path – something new and exciting may present itself and take you by surprise. Go with your gut and take a risk on something that sounds fun, and it may be extremely rewarding.

Cookies for a cause: Lady Fortunes’ Pink Ribbon Fortune Cookies, which are hand-dipped in Belgian white chocolate and decorated with edible pink ribbons, help to raise awareness for a worthy cause. A portion of those proceeds is donated to cancer research.

LAUNCHING YOUR CAREER>>
Locate several bakeries in your area that you would be interested in working for, and talk to the manager or owner about offering your services.

Click here for more Foodie Fridays! You can follow Lady Fortunes on their gourmet cookie blog and on Twitter at @LadyFortunesInc.

PLUS: Check out 25 hilarious fortune cookies from CollegeHumor.com!

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4 thoughts on “Foodie Friday: The Fortune Cookie Writer

  1. Pingback: Vote for No Joe Schmo for BlogHer ’11 Voices of the Year! | No Joe Schmo

  2. Pingback: Pink Ribbon Giant Fortune

  3. Pingback: Foodie Friday: The Oscar Mayer Hotdogger | No Joe Schmo

  4. Pingback: Foodie Friday: The Master Fudge Maker | No Joe Schmo

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