May 3, 2002
11:32 AM   Subscribe

This little dyscordian koan came out of my desert at lunch. I thought perhaps Google could shed some truth on it. I found it among truly bizarre fortunes, I found it among humorous fortunes. I even found out it was the Fortune Cookie of the Week for December 14, 1998. But I can't for the life of me figure out what it means, or where the original saying might have originated from. A fortune cookie meme-mystery!
posted by bclark (15 comments total)

Eeek! I hope that isn't what it means ... wouldn't that be "What you left behind is more yellow than wine?"
posted by bclark at 11:36 AM on May 3, 2002

I think it foretells a future in which someone posts a big ugly graphic on the front page of a community site visited by thousands of people each day, is so vilified that the person leaves the community and never comes back, and further describes the resulting peacefulness among mefi'ers whose fury has been spent with such success.

I could be wrong, though!
posted by luser at 11:37 AM on May 3, 2002

I used to work loading slips into the fortune cookis at the bakery in Chinatown, NY--it is a ref to the tip you are to leave.
posted by Postroad at 11:41 AM on May 3, 2002

So there you go...a mystery solved by Postroad.

I have a feeling we've just seen the birth of a truly disturbing trend. I fear for what the FP will become.
posted by taumeson at 11:43 AM on May 3, 2002

Ah, thank ya for the enlightenment, Postroad ... that's the first interpretation I've heard yet that makes sense.

My apologies, luser, if your sensibilities were damaged by a tiny scan of a fortune cookie fortune. Certainly not the intent ... I thought we had casual Fridays around here?
posted by bclark at 11:44 AM on May 3, 2002

Thanks for the edit to that to just link to it, and my apologies for not just structuring it that way the first time :)
posted by bclark at 11:48 AM on May 3, 2002

Why were you eating a barren or desolate area for lunch?
posted by jazon at 12:13 PM on May 3, 2002

Like the unopened bottle of wine that mellows with age, your memory of those hideous things from your past, having been filtered through your subconscious have become acceptable, even admirable.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:20 PM on May 3, 2002

Ah ... and spellcheck too :(
posted by bclark at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2002

Sorry, bclark, the desert/dessert thing really jumped out at me. Couldn't resist.
posted by jazon at 12:46 PM on May 3, 2002

Thinking about what it could mean (I hadn't read Postroad's link yet) I recalled the bathroom koan "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down..." and thought yes, that is something I leave behind.

Following the link to the fortune cookie of the week page, I wanted to see if there was a more recent list, so I altered the URL and tried again. One of the funnier 404's I've seen in a while (warning, sound), especially in my excremental frame of mind.
posted by kfury at 1:05 PM on May 3, 2002

Better than getting this in your fortune cookie.
posted by JParker at 1:06 PM on May 3, 2002

This is a really lovely day. Congratulations!
posted by PugAchev at 1:19 PM on May 3, 2002

It may just be original with the fortune cookie company.

David Jung, a Cantonese baker in Los Angeles, is widely credited with at least popularizing fortunes inside a traditional folded cookie. Jung began by lifting passages out of the Bible and using quotes by Aesop and Ben Franklin, while other early companies relied on Confucian epigrams. Most fortunes were moral in tone, such as "Happiness is not perfect until it is shared." By the 1950s, Jung decided that people wanted lighter and more playful fortunes, and he began running periodic fortune-writing contests for which winners were awarded memberships in the San Francisco Society of Fortune Cookie Scribes. The contests inspired such aphorisms as "A woman's sword is her tongue, and she doesn't let it rust." It wasn't long before others realized the marketing potential in the slips of paper. To promote his 1966 film, The Fortune Cookie, Billy Wilder had 15,000 cookies with the message "There's a marvelous picture in your future!" sent to exhibitors, journalists, and restauranteurs.

Fortune cookies went through their most radical changes in the '60s and '70s. Edward Louie, another Canton-born businessman, invented a machine that automatically placed the fortune inside the 3-inch wafer and folded it into its customary shape. But Louie's contribution was not limited to changing the way the cookies were made. The inventor's motto, "anything for a laugh," gave rise to "risque" fortune cookies, with messages ranging from racy to ribald. And in the money-focused '80s, fortune cookie companies began inscribing lucky lottery numbers on the strips.

Incidentally, it's only in the last decade that fortune cookies have made their way to China.
posted by dhartung at 3:31 PM on May 3, 2002

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