PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions

Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

Fortune cookie fortunes bear sales messages on other side

Thursday, April 19, 2001

By Adam Geller, The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- What would Confucius say?

The Web site has cooked up a new idea for promoting itself: advertising on the back of fortunes that are found inside fortune cookies. (Associated Press)

Just when it seems there's no surface left that advertisers haven't commandeered, an Internet firm has baked up a new recipe for self-promotion: tiny ads tucked inside fortune cookies.

The ads, for Web site, began showing up early this month on slips of paper folded into millions of cookies doled out to diners at Chinese restaurants nationwide.

The cookies, made by Wonton Food Inc. of New York, still tender the tidbits of wisdom Americans have long savored with their General Tso's Chicken and fried rice. But while the front of that slip of paper may tell you happiness and a long life are yours, the back offers $5 off your next purchase at the Web site.

"We really want to connect with people and evoke an emotional response," said Mark Hughes, vice president of marketing for, based in Plymouth Meeting, Montgomery County, Pa. "People are inundated ... with all this stuff, with branding and with logos. At least what we're trying to do is bring a smile to people's faces."

Wonton Food is baking the ads, reading "save a Fortune at," into 17 to 20 million of the 60 million Golden Bowl brand fortune cookies it makes each month at its plant in Queens, N.Y., said Richard Leung, the company's vice president of sales and marketing.

The company, which bills itself as the largest fortune cookie manufacturer on the East Coast, has filled orders in the past for promotional cookies for corporate customers. But it was up to the customers to hand out those cookies. This is the first time Wonton Foods is baking ads into the cookies it ships to restaurant supply distributors.

"If you go to a restaurant, everybody opens up the fortune cookie and the first thing, even before they eat the cookie, they read the message," Leung said. "That's how you get your message across."

The proof of that point may be the response to the first cookies, whose fortunes bear the slogan "Free $5."

Some recipients believe that they've just won $5 off their dinner check, which has created some awkward situations for restaurants and distributors, Leung said. His company and have agreed to revise the text to make its intent more clear.

Maybe fortune cookie advertising isn't so far-fetched in an age when just about any space -- even public restroom urinals -- is considered apt territory for commercial promotion.

But Hughes said his company's ads emphasize fun and innovation over shock value.

It isn't the first novel promotional ploy tried by, which is owned by online auctioneer eBay Inc. Before it was launched last year, the site persuaded civic leaders in Halfway, Ore., to change the city's name to for a year. Last fall, site executives put ads on thousands of bags of roasted nuts sold by sidewalk vendors in New York.

The slogan: "Why pay full price when you can get it for peanuts at"

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy