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Fortune Cookie Production at Benkyodo, San Francisco - ca 1914-1941 - WWII - 1946-1958

garyono
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Benkyodo's Katas

 Kata are individual baking irons or griddles that use to used to cook cookie dough singly. In Meiji-era Japan, bakers would have rows of Katas lined-up over a charcol grill and would turn them by their handles to bake on both sides. When baked, the baker would unclamp the Kata and remove the still hot Sembei and insert a fortune slip within and fold the Sembei cookie into the familiar fortune cookie shape, we know and love.

This was initially done by hand by the Hagiwara family members. When the demand for these treats grew overwhelmingly, they contracted with Suyeichi Okamura and his confectionary shop, Benkyodo to produce the fortune cookies and gave them enough katas to do so until Benkyodo developed a semi-automatic baking machine.

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