How to Make Homemade Fortune Cookies

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iStock

It takes about 30 seconds to rip apart and devour a fortune cookie (after reading the prescient message inside, of course), but making them by hand is a time-consuming process. While most of the fortune cookies served at Chinese restaurants in the U.S. are mass-produced, homemade cookies with personalized messages stuffed inside make great gifts and impressive party favors. Perhaps most importantly, they taste better, too.

Tammy, a Canadian cook behind the YouTube channel Yoyomax12 - The Diet-Free Zone, has broken down the process into a few simple steps. First, the batter is prepared by combining egg whites, vanilla extract, almond extract, vegetable oil, flour, corn starch, salt, sugar, and water in a bowl. Other recipes call for lemon or orange zest and melted butter to enhance the flavor.

Once the batter is well-mixed, two dabs are scooped onto a greased cookie sheet, and a spoon is used to spread it out. The batter is then baked for 11 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the edges are lightly browned.

The next step is when things start to get tricky. The cookies are soft and malleable when they first come out of the oven, but they quickly harden, so time is of the essence. As Tammy demonstrates, one of the cookies is picked up—they’re hot, so gloves are recommended!—and a paper fortune is placed in the middle. It's then folded in half, and the folded edge is lightly pressed against the rim of a mug to fold it one more time, giving the cookie its distinctive shape. After doing the same with the other cookie, the entire process is repeated by baking more batter.

Tammy suggests that beginners start with just two cookies at a time until they get the hang of it. “You have to fold the cookies when they’re still warm,” Tammy says. “If you fold them when they’re cool, they crack and they break into pieces because they get very brittle.”

Of course, fortune cookie companies use an assembly line to expedite the process. Machines take care of the mixing, baking, and folding, and videos of that process are available online (including one featuring Jimmy Kimmel). One manufacturer reportedly churns out 4 million fortune cookies per day.

Interestingly, although the Pacman-shaped cookies are a staple at Chinese restaurants, their heritage is largely American. Some have traced the confection's origins back to early 20th-century California, while other researchers have said its shape is uncannily similar to fortune cookies served in Japan decades before they popped up in the U.S.

Ready to try it out for yourself? It may take a bit of practice to get it right, but take some advice from a fortune cookie: “All things are difficult before they are easy.”

Grocery Stores vs. Supermarkets: What’s the Difference?

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gpointstudio/iStock via Getty Images

These days, people across the country are constantly engaging in regional term debates like soda versus pop and fireflies versus lightning bugs. Since these inconsistencies are so common, you might have thought the only difference between a grocery store and a supermarket was whether the person who mentioned one was from Ohio or Texas. In reality, there are distinctions between the stores themselves.

To start, grocery stores have been around for much longer than supermarkets. Back when every town had a bakery, a butcher shop, a greengrocery, and more, the grocery store offered townspeople an efficient shopping experience with myriad food products in one place. John Stranger, vice president group supervisor of the food-related creative agency EvansHardy+Young, explained to Reader’s Digest that the grocer would usually collect the goods for the patron, too. This process might sound familiar if you’ve watched old films or television shows, in which characters often just hand over their shopping lists to the person behind the counter. While our grocery store runs may not be quite so personal today, the contents of grocery stores remain relatively similar: Food, drinks, and some household products.

Supermarkets, on the other hand, have taken the idea of a one-stop shop to another level, carrying a much more expansive array of foodstuffs as well as home goods, clothing, baby products, and even appliances. This is where it gets a little tricky—because supermarkets carry many of the same products as superstores, the next biggest fish in the food store chain, which are also sometimes referred to as hypermarkets.

According to The Houston Chronicle, supermarkets and superstores both order inventory in bulk and usually belong to large chains, whereas grocery stores order products on an as-needed basis and are often independently owned. Superstores, however, are significantly larger than either grocery stores or supermarkets, and they typically look more like warehouses. It’s not an exact science, and some people might have conflicting opinions about how to categorize specific stores. For example, Walmart has a line of Walmart Neighborhood Markets, which its website describes as “smaller-footprint option[s] for communities in need of a pharmacy, affordable groceries, and merchandise.” They’re not independently owned, but they do sound like grocery stores, especially compared to Walmart’s everything-under-the-sun superstore model.

Knowing the correct store terms might not always matter in casual conversation, but it could affect your credit card rewards earnings. American Express, for example, offers additional rewards on supermarket purchases, and it has a specific list of stores that qualify as supermarkets, including Gristedes, Shoprite, Stop & Shop, and Whole Foods. Target and Walmart, on the other hand, are both considered superstores, so you won’t earn bonuses on those purchases.

And, since grocery shopping at any type of store can sometimes seem like a competitive sport, here’s the ideal time to go.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

What Does CPR Stand For?

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undefined undefined/iStock via Getty Images

The life-saving technique known as CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It's a method that allows oxygenated blood to temporarily circulate throughout the body of a person whose heart has stopped. When the heart ceases beating during cardiac arrest, lungs stop receiving oxygen. Without oxygen, nerve cells start to die within minutes; it can take just four to six minutes for an oxygen-deprived person to sustain permanent brain damage or die.

The cardio part of the phrase refers to the heart, the muscular organ that pumps blood through the body's circulatory system. Pulmonary involves the lungs. People take approximately 15 to 20 breaths per minute, and with each breath you take, your lungs fill with oxygen. Resuscitation means bringing something back to consciousness, or from the brink of death.

We have two physicians, Peter Safar and James Elam, to thank for developing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the mid-1950s. In 1957, the American military adopted their CPR method for reviving soldiers. In 1960, the American Heart Association integrated chest compressions, which keep the blood circulating.

Doctors, nurses, dentists, first responders, lifeguards, and some teachers are required to be certified in CPR. But because approximately 85 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home, it’s smart for the average person to know how to perform it, too. In school, you were probably taught CPR by the traditional method of giving 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute (play the Bee Gees’ "Stayin’ Alive" in your head to keep the beat) and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Today, the American Heart Association recommends that average people learn hands-only CPR, which simply involves chest compressions. The organization has found that people can be reluctant to administer mouth-to-mouth CPR in an emergency because they're afraid of doing it wrong or injuring the patient. With hands-only CPR, bystanders feel less anxiety and more willingness to jump in. The AHA also notes that hands-only CPR can be just as effective in saving a life. (And any CPR is better than none at all.)

But how many people actually know CPR?

In 2018, a Cleveland Clinic survey found that 54 percent of Americans said they knew CPR, but only one in six people knew that bystander CPR requires only chest compressions. Only 11 percent of people knew the correct pace for compressions. Again, singing "Stayin' Alive" to yourself is one way to remember the pace—though being a fan of The Office can apparently help, too (as one lucky life-saver recently discovered).

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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