The cookies are okay, the fortunes are fine and if you’re lucky, you’ll get some suggested lottery numbers you might choose to use.

Fortune cookies are a fun, but easily forgettable, part of going out for Chinese food. But wouldn’t they be much better if they came with coupons inside? And if different types of coupon-containing cookies were available in different types of restaurants?

That’s the hope of a West Virginia man who wants to make fortune cookies much more rewarding. Serial inventor Fred Herz, who has dozens of patents to his name, has filed an application for another – “Fortune Cookies With Promotional Messages”.

“These tiny, inexpensive cookies have been provided at the end of Chinese meals for over a century,” the newly-published application reads. “However, the fortune cookies distributed by Chinese restaurants with the check are not particularly interesting, and have no intrinsic value.”

So instead of a slip of paper with a pithy Confucian saying and some lottery numbers on the back, Herz proposes stuffing his fortune cookies with “promotional material that enhances customer loyalty, and enhances business for the restaurant”.

You might open a cookie and find a coupon inside that’s good for a free item on your next visit. Or you could get a percentage off your bill right then and there.

And Herz’s cookies wouldn’t be limited to only Chinese restaurants. “For example, matzoh fortune cookies may be provided in Jewish delis,” he proposes, “pita bread fortune cookies in Greek restaurants, tortilla fortune cookies in Mexican restaurants, Portuguese sweetbread fortune cookies in Spanish or Portuguese restaurants, rice cake fortune cookies in Japanese restaurants, gingerbread or chocolate chip cookie fortune cookies in ice cream parlors, etc.”


The inventor seems particularly taken with the idea of offering fortune cookies made of cornbread at Cracker Barrel restaurants. The patent application gets into great detail about how the Southern country-themed restaurant and gift store chain might utilize the invention.

The messages inside Cracker Barrel’s cornbread cookies might consist of “a southern colloquial fortune” like “Butter your own biscuit” or “Sparks are going to fly at the square dance!” the application proposes. Or they might include a “historical fact about country living” such as “Early American women tied pockets on the outside of their skirts” or “Native Americans used the beaver’s front tooth to carve tools in the 1700s.”

Who knew you could eat chicken-fried steak and learn a little something at the same time?

But the real fortune will come in the form of offers imprinted on the back of the messages. “The prize can be 10% off the clearance rack, 10% off in the online store, or a discount off of a Cracker Barrel product such as maple syrup or jam at the register,” the application suggests. Or you could get a freebie like a piece of candy, a free side dish or “a package of DC Comics Superhero Cotton Candy”.

It seems Herz has really thought this thing through. And just in case Cracker Barrel isn’t quite clear on how it might work, the patent application even includes an illustration of what a Cracker Barrel cornbread fortune cookie might look like.

So what does Cracker Barrel have to say about the concept? Not much, actually. The patent application’s frequent and detailed references to Cracker Barrel are just “a hypothetical,” Cracker Barrel spokesperson Breeanna Straessle told Coupons in the News. “We have no affiliation with this product or its patent filer.”

That may come as a disappointment to Cracker Barrel customers hoping for some cookies and coupons alongside their buttermilk biscuits. And it could be a particular disappointment to Herz, who seems bound and determined to get his cookies into Cracker Barrel restaurants.

But there are plenty of other restaurants that could get on board with the idea. So read your message carefully the next time you crack open a fortune cookie. Confucius says, saving some money just might be in your future.

Photo by Ksayer1

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