How’s Your Luck?

Name: Cheryl Ohta
Age: 58
Job: Fortune cookie writer and treasurer/HR manager, Hawaii Candy Inc.

The Mililani resident received her business degree in marketing from the University of San Francisco in 1981. “My husband, Keith, is the third-generation owner. His grandfather started the business in 1933. Our company makes the most fortune cookies in the state.

Tsujiura, or fortune cookies, are actually from Japan, but they became popular in Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, so were thought to be Chinese. When my father-in-law, Richard, ran the factory in the ’70s and ’80s, he brought in a special fortune cookie machine from Japan.”

Process: “Four scoops of cookie batter are plopped on a griddle that goes around on the machine. It goes halfway through, then flips the cookies over to cook the other side, like small pancakes.

“When the cookies are still warm, our workers use fabric gloves to pick them up, insert a fortune, carefully hand-fold them, then put them on fortune cookie holders to cool.

“We also have giant fortune cookies as big as your hand, where customers can put in car keys, graduation money, even an engagement ring. Messages can be personalized.”

Fortunes: “They’re a combination of sayings over 30 years old – since we began making fortune cookies – and new ones that my daughter (Lauren Osorio, 35) and I pick from magazines, online, friends or family or something we create ourselves. We have collected several hundred of the fortunes over time.

“All of our inserts are positive, upbeat and inspirational. When we create the playful/funny ones, we try to be ‘politically correct.’ We don’t want to offend anybody. We have other family members read the sayings so we can judge their reactions.”

Fun: “It’s interesting to write new fortunes because you have to think about the person opening it and how they would react. I’m a marketing major, so it’s fun to go through my day and see possibilities for new sayings as I’m reading or seeing ads or traveling.”

Caution: “We have to be careful of copyrights and not borrow anything associated with someone’s name. Sometimes we think an idea is good, but then we Google it and maybe four others have said the same thing.”


This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
Categories: Careers