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Read about us in the news! Below is a collection of articles and blog posts talking about Keefer Court and our mouth watering fortune cookies!

Keefer Court: Baking a Fortune

By David Madsen, Free Speech Zone
August 31, 2010

“Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”; “It is better to have a hen tomorrow than an egg today.”; “Did you remember to order takeout?”

These are some of the inspirational, and sometimes confusing, messages people often receive their meals at American Chinese Restaurants. Since the introduction of Chinese cuisine to the Western palette, the fortune cookie has been a staple dessert for many foodies. But where do these prophesying pastries come from?

In 1995, Sunny Kwan brought the scent of fresh-baked fortune cookies to Seward with the construction of Keefer Court Food’s Fortune Cookie Division. Since then, his company and website (www.e-fortunecookie.com) have become one of the largest fortune cookie distributors in the upper Midwest.

Kwan’s initial venture into the culinary world was in 1982 with the introduction of Keefer Court Bakery located on Cedar Avenue. The café, was added on in 1987 and is still operated by his family. It soon became a beacon on the West Bank for those craving Cantonese-style food and Hong Kong-style baked goods.

Inside the building now known as Keefer Court Bakery and Café, Kwan installed one of the only fully-functioning fortune cookie machines in the state. With the demand for his cookies rising and a space in Seward opening up, Kwan decided to expand Keefer Court Food’s fortune cookie division in 1993 to a location on a vacant lot.

Business kept booming for Kwan as he purchased two high-output, custom-made fortune cookie machines. These machines only take a few employees to operate, but they pump out about 400 boxes containing 350 cookies everyday. Kwan reports that he supplies to many grocery stores, food services, and restaurants; he also sells his cookies at retail price on their website.

On E-FortuneCookie.com, customers have the chance to browse many fortune cookie varieties, including a cookie dipped in delectable Guittard chocolate and a cookie that is 4 inches by 4 inches (that’s about the size of two fists put together!). Customers have the option to customize the cookie’s messages for any occasion.

Kwan reported that E-FortuneCookie.com is currently undergoing a redevelopment and when the site is updated in November, “The site will help automate the custom message orders the process will go a lot faster, and we’ll pass the savings onto our customers.”

Kwan, in his 28th year of owning and managing the café and company, currently acts as a chairman and manager of Keefer Court Food, but he is also in charge of quality control at his factory. “That way, I know our customers are happy with our product and our service,” Kwan said.

To receive more information about Keefer Court Bakery and Café, visit http://www.keefercourt.com/ or call 612-340-0937. To receive more information about the Fortune Cookie division, and to place your orders for these truth-telling treats, visit http://www.e-fortunecookie.com/ or call 612-724-6116.




Good Question: How Do They Make Fortune Cookies? (WCCO)

You don’t need a fortune cookie to foretell what’s for dessert when you order Chinese take-out. Those crunchy cookies with the ancient wisdom inside are a staple at many Asian restaurants. There is a mystery surrounding the fortune cookie. How do they get the fortune in the cookies?

Keefer Court Foods in Minneapolis, which cranks out 200,000 fortune cookies a day, revealed the secret. “There is the machine to make the fortune cookie. First we make the dough and put it in the dough container,” said owner Sunny Kwan. The dough is baked on a conveyor then the flat cookie comes out. “It picks up the paper after they’re baked,” said Kwan.

The fortune is then placed in the flat cookie and the machine folds it inside. Before automation, Kwan’s parents folded the piping hot cookies by hand. Kwan and a copy writer write the 1000 fortunes with fortunes like, “Problems are opportunities for growth” and “The road to success is always under construction.”

Most assume the cookie is a Chinese tradition. They were apparently created by a Chinese restaurant owner in San Francisco as a fun dessert for Americans who, unlike the Chinese, were accustomed to eating something sweet after a meal.

If your fortunes in the cookies don’t come true, Kwan has this advice: “If it’s not true right now, it might be true later. So you always have hope for good fortune.” With hundreds of thousands of cookies made daily, fortunes are repeated. But chances of you getting the same one twice are slim.

Minneapolis Company Finds Its Fortune in Fortune Cookies

(Originated from Saint Paul Pioneer Press, Minn.)
Article from: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Article date: January 17, 1994
Author: Egerstrom, Lee

Jan. 18—If you still think a “paradigm” is worth 20 cents, you haven’t been reading and eating your fortune cookies.

Keefer Court Food, a Minneapolis company that prints fortunes and bakes fortune cookies for Upper Midwest restaurants, is taking fortunes on a great leap forward, to the 21st Century. Instead of old fortunes that claimed to impart some wisdom from Confucius or would simply predict success in business or love, the new-generation fortunes offer a wide variety of messages and subjects.

Recent examples proclaim, “You are ready for a paradigm shift,” “Seven days without laughter will make you weak,” and “You will have gold pieces by the bushel.”

The latter is a favorite of restaurateur LeeAnn Chin, says Dan Wallace, the Minneapolis marketing consultant and promotion copywriter who writes fortune notes for Keefer Court.

Acceptance of the new line is obviously good, adds Sunny Kwan, owner of Keefer Court. The company has doubled fortune cookie sales during the past two years, after importing more-efficient cookie baking equipment from Japan, and will close its 1993 books with sales “right at $1 million,” Kwan said.

That gives Keefer Court about 60 percent of the Twin Cities and surrounding region’s fortune cookie market, say marketing specialists for the restaurant trade. But exact market data isn’t available. At least five bakeries and restaurant supply companies sell fortune cookies in the Twin Cities market, Kwan said. Among them are Garden Food Co. in Minneapolis, another privately owned company, and Golden Dragon Fortune Cookies of Chicago. Golden Dragon is owned by Kwan’s relatives, who, in turn, are connected in Canada to Kwan family bakeries in Toronta and Vancouver.

We do other Chinese and Oriental baking, too, (such as) buns, rolls, birthday cakes and wedding cakes,” Kwan said. “But the cookies are our big business.”

LeeAnn Chin, with 22 restaurants and carry-out locations in the metropolitan area, is his biggest customer. Kwan said he bought his current bakery, at 326 Cedar Ave. S., from Chin’s sister-in-law, Rose Wall.

The company is in a growth mode after importing baking equipment in 1992, Kwan said. McDonald’s wanted Keefer Court to make fortune cookies for its chain of restaurants, but the order was too large for his company. The current equipment allows Keefer Court’s five employees to produce about 100,000 cookies a day, with capacity for more.

Kwan said he is looking to expand. He will attend an airline food service trade show Feb. 9 through 11 in Geneva, where he hopes to place fortune cookies on one or more major carriers.

Meanwhile, Kwan and his copywriter consultant, Wallace, are planning to offer more food for thought. The two have collaborated on a book, called “Wisdom,” about fortunes and cookies that is now being placed with a literary agent.

It contains an introduction by Kwan “and dozens of pithy sayings, aphorisms and some fortunes,” Wallace said. “Typically, there are two camps of fortune cookie fans; about half the people like wisdom, half like fortunes. “We’re trying to jump them up to a whole new level.”

The book will also reveal the new lines of cookie messages Keefer Court is printing. There’s a line of quotes, such as “Gross National Product is our Holy Grail. - Stewart Udall”; another line of business fortunes, and a third line of personal fortunes. One simply says, “Yes!”

Wallace is currently working on a fourth line - fortunes for children. Lest anyone think Keefer Court is taking liberty with fine, old Chinese tradition, Wallace notes that fortune cookies “are as Chinese as chop suey. They are American. A bakery in San Francisco started the cookies.” But Kwan, whose Keefer Court name pays homage to a world-famous bakery of that name in Hong Kong, said fortune cookies were at least inspired by Chinese legend. During China’s Ming Dynansty (1368-1644), people spreading rebellion passed notes tucked in cakes, he said.


Egerstrom, Lee. “Minneapolis Company Finds Its Fortune in Fortune Cookies.”

(Originated from Saint Paul Pioneer Press, Minn.).
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. 1994. HighBeam Research. 23 Jul. 2010

Flavors of Asia; Moon Festival Traditions and Loreb
Article from: Asian Pages
Article date: September 14, 2003
Author: Harris, Phyllis Louise

It has been said that the Three-Legged Toad now living on the moon was once the wife of China’s most famous archer, and the Jade Rabbit was the magic pill that brought her there. Others say the moon is home to the beautiful fairy Change E, her pet jade rabbit and a woodcutter named W u Gang.

The Chinese Moon Festival on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar (September 11 this year) is filled with wonderful legends and holiday foods. It is a time to celebrate the harvest and gather with family to watch the rising of the biggest full moon of the year.

Traditionally, holiday foods including many things round and yellow or orange are served to celebrate this special moon. Oranges, peaches, pomegranates and grapes are a few of the foods served, but Mooncakes are the most important. Actually more of a dumpling than a cake, they are 4” balls of filling wrapped with a thin layer of dough and formed in a special press. The consistency of nougat and very rich, fillings may be sweet or sweet and salty and are made from bean paste, mixed nuts, sesame seeds or ham. Some have single or double hard-boiled egg yolks in the center, to further the visual celebration of the golden harvest moon. And while they aren’t very large, they are so rich that each Mooncake can serve four to eight people.

In many areas Mooncakes are made just once a year and local Asian markets import them from as far away as Hong Kong. But, in the Twin Cities we can get them freshly made at the area’s first Chinese bakery, Keefer Court Food at Cedar and Riverside in Minneapolis. For 20 years Pauline Kwan has created the holiday cakes by hand and formed them in specially carved presses.

Making as many as 4000 each season, Kwan offers a variety of fillings that patrons take home by the dozen or enjoy with coffee or tea in the bakery’s small cafe. For more information call Keefer Court Food at 612-340-0937.

For Internet shoppers www.chinasprout.com is a good source of Mooncakes and for books about the festival. Their Mooncakes are from a Chinese bakery in New York City’s Chinatown and are shipped within a few days of order.

Varieties include red bean paste, black bean paste, white lotus paste with egg yolk, mixed nuts, and Chinese ham.

Perhaps the most creative use of Mooncakes, and one that changed history, was by the leaders of the Sung dynasty in China who had been conquered by the Mongols (AD 1280-1368). They were so unhappy with the Mongolian rulers they plotted a rebellion and hid their attack plans inside Mooncakes. Since the Mongols did not eat lotus seed Mooncakes, the messages were successfully delivered throughout the land and on the night of the Moon Festival, the Mongols were overthrown leading to the establishment of the Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644).

Happy Moon Festival!

Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim.

For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the web site at www.asianculinaryarts.com.

Article copyright Asian Pages.
Harris, Phyllis Louise. “Flavors of Asia; Moon Festival Traditions and Lore.” Asian Pages. 2003. HighBeam Research. 23 Jul. 2010

Sound Bites: The ’90s Fortune Cookie Message

Article from: The Washington Post
Article date: June 26, 1996
Author: Tara Mack

You’re rushed. You’re busy.

You don’t have much time for lunch. You certainly don’t have time to contemplate an obscure, elliptical aphorism hidden in the fortune cookie that comes after your meal.

You want a fortune that you can understand, information you can use, now, today, that addresses you personally.

Or at least that’s what fortune writers have divined.

Fortune cookies, however steeped in the illusion of ancient tradition, have changed to keep up with our fast-paced culture. Confucius is out. Philosophy is out. Broken English is out. Simple is in. Instant gratification is in. Humor is in.

And if you miss the old-fashioned fortunes with your moo goo gai pan? “Well, welcome to the ’90s. Being philosophical no longer works.” Maryann Blais, who writes fortunes for a small company in Massachusetts, says that fortunes “have become more liberal, easier to understand, more fun.”

Blais, a former truck driver, runs the office for United Automation Technology, a company in Westborough, Mass., that manufactures both fortune cookie slips and fortune cookie-making machines.

The fortune cookie experience of the ’90s should not be boring or confusing, she says. Messages should strive for clarity, simplicity. They should be upbeat (UAT makes the fortune slips with the smiley faces on them). They should make people think, but not too hard. They should be realistic, or at least as realistic as a prophecy can be. And, in addition to being funny, they should spark a little after-dinner conversation.

You will find a bushel of gold”: too unrealistic.

You will have great success”: too vague.

Confucius say lovers in triangle not on square”: too confusing.

Fortune cookies, which used to resemble quick-hit psychic hot lines or offer philosophical sound bites, have become daily affirmations.

Blais’s favorite kind of messages advise whether you should wear red or blue or give you a word of the day, such as “courage,” “tenderness” or “forgiveness.”

It’s for today,” she says. “It doesn’t mean you have to wait for anything to happen. The world’s too fast. I’m not trying to speed it up, but you like to have something that makes you smile that day.”

Some writers have pushed the boundaries of the fortune cookie genre even further. Dan Wallace, a marketing consultant, was hired to write new messages for Keefer Court Food in Minneapolis. The company was concerned that its messages were getting a bit, well, stale.

He decided to abandon the traditional “Confucius say” broken-English format, which he says was boring and tainted with racist overtones.

Some of his messages don’t contain prophecy or advice. One offers a logic puzzle: “This sentence is false. The previous sentence is true.” Another says simply “Yes.”

Mike Fry, founder of the Indianapolis-based Fancy Fortune Cookies company, also thought the fortune cookie needed modernizing. After taking a class on goal-setting 14 years ago, Fry wrote out a list of 183 items. Inventing and marketing a product was No. 83. He already joined the circus (No. 1) and starred in a local TV show (No. 2).

He called his invention the misfortune cookie — a red cookie that carried a humorous insult: “Help improve your neighborhood — move”; “Is that your face or did your neck throw up?” He and a friend sold them to Bloomingdale’s.

Everything I read said if you get a product in Bloomingdale’s and it does good, then normally other stores and other accounts will pick you up,” he said.

From there he created the motivational cookie, which contained “power quotes” from some of the most motivated figures in history.

Voltaire: No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.”

Sir Winston Churchill: Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.” (An interesting pick for a fortune cookie.)

Most companies keep databases of thousands of fortunes that they periodically freshen up with new ones or those they swap with other companies. Ideas for fortunes can come from anywhere, fortune writers say. Conversations with friends, television, quote books, other fortune cookies.

Donald Lau, vice president of Wonton Food in Brooklyn, a major supplier for the Washington area, even has fortune-writing contests for schoolchildren. He got the idea from an art teacher in Richmond. He says students come up with fortunes that are more appealing to a younger generation: “You will never be late for school” and “You will never beat up your sister” and “A good friend will pick you for a team.”

And those who feel the cookie itself is too old-fashioned can dispense with it altogether and just get their fortunes by going on-line.

Pop the phrase “fortune cookie” into an Internet search engine and dozens of sites appear. Most invite the reader to reload the page over and over and read fortune after fortune pulled from large databases. Others ask people to subscribe and receive a new fortune weekly or daily. One even displays a digital cookie. A click of the mouse and the cookie crumbles into pieces.

One page offers fortunes for the atheist. Creator Ed Gauci, needless to say, does not have much faith in fortune cookies. He says he just saw fortunes as an easy way to get atheist content on the Web.

People who are nonreligious, people who are atheist or agnostic, have their own culture and their own needs and should be represented on the Internet,” he says.

But the faithful need not fear.

Evangelistic Foods of Minneapolis advertises Bible fortune cookies on the Internet. Order now and the word of God can be revealed through a vanilla-flavored snack, only $21 for 100.

Not all efforts to bring the fortune cookie up to date have been successful. Wallace says some of his new messages were flops. As to whether he personally believes in the prophetic powers of fortune cookies, he would say only, “I don’t acknowledge that or deny it.”

But, he says, he found his customers didn’t want logic puzzles or abstract aphorisms that don’t address them personally. His formula for a good fortune cookie message: “Make it predictive. Make it `you’-oriented. And if you can, make it a little bit funny, too, or mysterious.”

In other words, make it a fortune.

Tara Mack. “Sound Bites: The ’90s Fortune Cookie Message.”

The Washington Post. Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Co. 1996. HighBeam Research. 23 Jul. 2010

His Fortune Cookie Said: Hard Work Brings Own Firm
By Dick Youngblood
Sunday, August 13, 1995 Star Tribune, Business Section

For the better part of three years in the late 1970s, Sunny Kwan slept only five or six hours a night to accommodate the two full-time jobs he was working in Toronto as an auto mechanic and a baker in a Chinese bakery.

I want my own business,” said Kwan, who was born on mainlan China and emigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in 1973. “I wasn’t sure what kind of business it would be; I just knew I wanted my own.”

He’s still working 15 to 16 hours a day, “but at least it’s just one job,” said Kwan, 44, whose goal is to cut back to a more leisurely 12-hour workday. Better yet, he’s working all those hours for himself.

Kwan’s business turned out to be Keefer Court Food, Inc., which by all accounts is Minnesota’s first Chinese bakery and fortune cookie factory. First or not, it has to be the fastest-growing: Kwan is heading for 1995 sales of $1.1 million, up one-third from $810,000 in 1994 and double the $585,000 recorded in 1993.

In fact, with the company growing at an annual rate of more than 30 percent so far in the 1900s, Kwan has been a tad squeezed in the 4,000-square-foot building he has occupied on the West Bank since 1983. So he rustled up $1.3 million in SBA loans to build and equip an additional 13,000-square-foot facility scheduled to open in September near the Minnehaha Mall on East Lake Street.