The Misfortune Cookie

"The Misfortune Cookie" is the third segment of the fourteenth episode from the first season (1985–86) of the television series The New Twilight Zone.


Harry Folger is a snobby and arrogant food critic for a major newspaper. Restaurants live or die by his reviews, which are often nasty. Folger's hobby is to collect matchbooks of restaurants he's destroyed, which he arranges in a sort of miniature graveyard. One day he hears about a mysterious new Chinese restaurant, "Mr. Lee's Chinese Cuisine", and - without ever visiting the place - immediately begins typing a review: "If you love your Pekingese, don't ask for a doggie bag..." However, being the gourmand he is and urged by his boss, Harry decides he simply must visit the establishment in person. When he enters the restaurant, he orders a massive amount of foods, then immediately asks for the check before trying any of his meal. Though disappointed, the owner, Mr. Lee, presents Harry with a fortune cookie, which he says is magical. Harry reads the fortune: "A grand reward awaits you just around the corner", and exits.

As Harry is walking through the alley, a bank robber knocks him down and drops $100,000 in diamonds before running away. The jeweler says that Harry deserves $1,000; that was supposed to be a bonus for the security guards who failed to catch the crook; as a reward (a "grand" reward). Realizing the fortune cookies are indeed magical, Harry returns for more. At lunch he receives a fortune that says: "April arrives today bringing romance." Harry knows it is September, so he storms out. But before he can get to his office, he meets a woman asking for directions. He shows her the way, and asks her out for dinner. When he asks her name, she replies, "April."

At their dinner, April's fortune tells her that she will soon recognize her error in judgment. Harry's message says "You're going to die". Outraged, Harry swears at Mr. Lee, causing a scene. April, seeing him for who he truly is, storms out. Mr. Lee tells him the fortune cookie delivers due fortune. As he exits the restaurant, Harry is overcome with massive hunger pangs. He looks up and finds that he is surrounded by Chinese restaurants that were not there before. Not thinking anything of it, he goes into one restaurant, but no matter how much he eats, he can't seem to satisfy his hunger. As he continues to eat, he receives a fortune that informs him why he is perpetually hungry: "You're dead". The last scene shows Folger's matchbook collection-the latest one has Folger's name on it.

Closing narration

"Check please, for Mr. Harry Folger. For whom the phrase "dim sum" is not merely a description, but a damnation. A man who finds himself sitting down to a single, neverending course of just desserts. Prepared for him in the kitchens of the Twilight Zone."