Surprising Food Facts about China

Some foods are often associated with a particular country, but the following facts about their origins may surprise you.

Fortune cookies

If you thought those tasty little confections containing wise advice for you were Chinese, you would be incorrect. The Chinese do not serve them in their country either. When offered fortune cookies in their own country, people seem confused by the piece of paper tucked inside.

Actually, fortune cookies were created in Japan. Hiding paper fortunes in cookies and candy is decades old for Japanese bakers.


The favorite tangy condiment of most french fry lovers originated in China. Over 500 years has elapsed since the term ketchup was used to describe a fish sauce made with fermented anchovies, hold the tomatoes. Throughout Chinese provinces and into other countries, the idea was passed along until it reached America in the early 1800’s. That is when a Philadelphia scientist, James Mease, created his own recipe adding tomatoes and spices.


These delicious tender slices of fried dough with crispy edges, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon are not a Mexican idea. Although there is some controversy where the recipe commenced, the Mexican population appreciate it. Some claim it was Spanish sheep herdsmen, others say Portuguese sailors. Possibly the Chinese invented churros and the Portuguese sailors took them home. Spain apparently liked the food also, leading them to develop their own interpretation.

The idea that Spanish shepherds were frying foods over a fire and came up with a plan to fry the dough, naming it for a breed of sheep known as churra is possible. Eventually conquistadors ran with it and introduced churros to Latin America.

Duck Sauce

It is a tasty condiment for all sorts of food, not duck alone. It is also prepared with dried Turkish apricots, not a classic Chinese ingredient.

Crab Wonton

Little packages of fried dough filled with crab meat and cream cheese are also known as Crab Rangoon. Rangoon is the former capital of Burma. The Chinese did not invent Crab Wontons, aka, Crab Rangoon.

General Tso’s Chicken

The popular spicy, sweet fried chicken with vegetables is a delicious dish appearing to be an original Chinese recipe. It was concocted in New York in the seventies. It is possible it was formulated from a similar recipe originating in ancient China.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Begin with delicious, tender cuts of pork, battered and fried. Drenched with the aromatic sweet red sauce is the American version of a sweet and sour meat dish. Chinese sweet and sour has less sauce and is completed with seafood or fish.

Chop Suey

Although this dish has been around a long time, it was actually invented in America by Chinese restaurant owners. During the Gold Rush days an effort to satisfy hungry miners came down to scraping together, well, scraps with some soy sauce. Those who live in China are not responsible for the ‘odds and ends’ invented in California.

There are countless interactions such as these between America and China, and it just goes to show that our history of working together goes back much further and deeper than overseas manufacturing.

For more information on what manufacturing in China can do for your company, contact ITI today.

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