When Yasuo Hamano, founder of Umeya Rice Cake Co., started making fortune cookies 70 years ago in Los Angeles, American cuisine did not yet include McDonald’s now ubiquitous Chicken McNuggets. But thanks to that popular menu item, Hamano’s cookie company is now raking in one of its greatest fortunes.
Umeya Rice Cake Co. is one of seven U.S. fortune cookie manufacturers selected to produce 40 million fortune cookies for McDonald’s nationwide “Shanghai McNugget” promotion.
Tak Hamano, Yasuo Hamano’s son and president of the family owned and operated business in downtown Los Angeles, said the mega-order from McDonald’s “is by far the largest volume ordered by one source. It took us a whole month to fill McDonald’s order.”
The fortune cookies are being offered by McDonald’s as part of the company’s special six week promotion of a special chicken entree, “Shanghai McNugget,” that ends Sept. 14.
So far, said McDonald’s spokeswoman Lana Ehrsam, “there’s been a very positive reaction from our customers.”
Although the fortune cookies manufactured by Umeya look like traditional fortune cookies, which are made from wheat flour, sugar and eggs, some of the written fortunes on the inside of the McDonald’s cookies are a bit more cryptic than the usual mystical fortune cookie message. “All the world is a stage and right now it’s intermission,” was one of the more humorous of the 50 to 75 different messages contained in the 40 million cookies.
Hamano said that the McDonald’s promotion has helped put fortune cookies “on the map. Many people think that fortune cookies are only for after dinner treats at Chinese restaurants, but actually they are fun and tasty anywhere.”
To that end, the fortune cookie entrepreneur, whose company also makes rice crackers and rice chips, has decided to cash in on the new-found popularity of fortune cookies by offering fortune cookies as Halloween treats this fall. The cookies will come 60 to a bag, be individually wrapped and will contain messages “that will delight kids of all ages,” Hamano said.
Meanwhile, Hamano said his traditional customers, restaurants and specialty stores, have been stepping up their orders for fortune cookies in the wake of the McDonald’s promotion.
“Those that had been ordering from us are now ordering quite a bit more,” Hamano said. “Business is really good.”