China boasts a rich history and large population. Not only is China home to one of the world’s highest population densities; its culture boasts unique and strange facts that will leave visitors scratching their heads!
Fortune cookies were not invented in China; rather they first surfaced at a San Francisco noodle factory in 1920.
Fortune Cookies Didn’t Originate From China
China is an immense nation home to diverse cultures and traditions. But few know that fortune cookies were actually invented here in America!
Fortune cookies first made their debut in America around 1900s, likely thanks to Japanese immigrants living in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Their predecessor was known as senbei; similar treats could then be baked flat before slips of paper were placed inside while still warm before folding into their iconic shape before cooling.
American Chinese restaurants adopted this tradition, and soon enough fortune cookies became a popular treat after meals. Now over 3 billion fortune cookies are produced annually – most by Wonton Food Inc, a company established by Ching Sun Wong back in 1973.
In the past, fortune cookies were made manually and required an intensive labor process as fortunes had to be written quickly before hardening took place. Furthermore, fortunes written in Chinese were time-sensitive events like New Year. Now they are produced using machines with pre-printed words; their vice president began writing fortunes himself but ultimately hired an outside writer for this job.
60% of the World’s Mushroom Varieties
Chinese mushroom lovers appreciate both flavor and texture when selecting their favorites; whether that means cutting through fresh and slippery nubs with an exact knife, or devouring meaty tea mushrooms – both qualities top their list of priorities when selecting their edible favorites. China ranks first globally in mushroom production with over 800 commercially cultivated varieties available – many which cannot be found elsewhere.
Mushroom cultivation has led to a boom in some rural economies. For instance, Gutian now features a mushroom museum funded with public money to promote mushrooms and their cultivation; Qingyuan boasts another privately funded one dedicated to mushroom culture, history, and technology.
China’s fungi boast an immense diversity. For instance, DNA barcoding revealed that three out of the five cultivated oyster mushrooms sold at a supermarket in London were actually separate species and one even had hallucinogenic properties. A common variety known as “jian shou qing,” commonly associated with its phallic appearance but toxic in reality and responsible for numerous deaths across Yunnan province.
Pine mushrooms (Song Jun, songjun) are relatively safe and common varieties that grow near mountain pines and can fetch thousands of dollars per pound; however, the Cordyceps sinensis parasitic fungus feeds on caterpillars and has been sold for as much as $2,000 per ounce in Tibet.
Toilet Paper Was Invented in China
Toilet paper plays an integral part in our lives – whether that means using it to clean yourself off after using the restroom, or throwing it against buildings and trees as an amusing prank! One of the greatest inventions ever, toilet paper was first invented in China but initially featured quite different characteristics than its current form!
Before the Chinese experimented with toilet paper, people relied on sticks, leaves, rags, snow, wool or animal skin to wipe their bottoms. By the 6th century CE large-scale manufacturing began and by 14th century Chinese were producing over 720,000 two-by-three feet sheets per year for just the Emperor and his family!
By the late 15th century, toilet paper had arrived in Europe via the Silk Road. Modern commercially available toilet paper didn’t reach America until 1857 when New York-based entrepreneur Joseph Gayetty sold “Medicated Paper for the Water Closet” packages of 500 sheets at 50 cents each.
Notably, toilet paper production does not reside solely within China – rather, many other major producers exist worldwide and China supplies over half of all supply. The United States boasts several of these major producers as well.
Kites Were Invented in China
Kites are one of the most beloved toys in China, used for various occasions such as celebrating New Year celebrations or simply spreading good fortune. Kite flying has also become a sport in this nation of over 1 billion people; over 3 million regularly participate.
History of Kites goes back thousands of years! First created during ancient China’s Warring States period (475 B.C – 221 B.C), kites were initially employed for military use such as delivering messages or spying on opponents; indeed they even used kites to lift soldiers into the sky!
The original kites were composed of cloth and wood. Often designed in the shape of animals such as birds, they served several purposes including scaring away any attackers who may try to attack and navigation as kites could fly across water telling sailors where they were located.
At first, kites were strictly military tools used for war. Only during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) did lighter kites become widely popular – made out of silk and paper for ease of flying – thus transcending their humble military origins into an instrument for leisure and playfulness.
During the Tang Dynasty, people began attaching bamboo pipes to kites so they would ring in the wind like an ancient Chinese musical instrument called zheng, hence giving rise to what Chinese refers to as the term for kite: feng zheng.
China Believes in Lucky and Unlucky Numbers
Chinese culture holds many superstitions and beliefs surrounding numbers. Many are tied to how numbers sound in Chinese, while others represent certain aspects of life – for instance three is considered lucky in China as it sounds similar to “birth”, representing all three stages of human development: birth, marriage and death.
Eight is an immensely lucky number in China because its sound resembles that of “fortune.” Multiples of this number resemble Chinese characters representing double happiness Xi and thus can bring more prosperity than single happiness; consequently it is often seen in products, buildings and businesses throughout China as the number 888.
China considers the number four to be unlucky as it sounds similar to death – this can be seen through pronunciation and how some buildings and elevators do not include fourth floors as part of their numbered floors.
The number two is considered lucky as it symbolizes that good things come in pairs, making double-meaning words with this number popular – such as phrases “two is company” and “double happiness.” Many Chinese cultures also believe it’s auspicious to repeat characters; hence the popularity of Chinese names with repeated characters such as Apple.
Crickets Are a Popular Pet
At first glance, crickets may resemble grasshoppers but there are distinct differences between the two insects. Crickets feature cylindrical bodies with rounded heads and long antennae. They can grow to reach two inches long and come in black or brown colors. Crickets are nocturnal animals that prefer dark environments such as bushes, flowerbeds, basements or garbage cans as hiding places; light sources outside or visible through windows will draw them towards your home or property.
Crickets pack an incredible nutritional punch into their tiny bodies. They contain abundant amounts of protein, healthy fats and essential minerals such as calcium and iron. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has approved eating crickets as a source of efficient protein that requires less water use, land usage and greenhouse gases than other animal proteins produced.
Keep songbirds is an increasingly popular pastime in China, which was the inspiration behind Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Nightingale. At one time, keeping rhesus monkeys was also popular – Paul Theroux once saw someone riding their bicycle with one on their shoulders!