Student Sells “Calamity Cookies” On Campus


Liam Leahy launched Calamity Cookies to sell ironic misfortune cookies. He writes the misfortunes himself. (Sarah Huffman/The Fordham Ram)

Three years ago, Liam Leahy, FCRH ’22, helped his group win their summer camp’s “Shark Tank” contest. The prize winning product? Misfortune cookies.

This year, Leahy returned to that original idea and launched his company Calamity Cookies, a misfortune-telling gag gift available to everyone.

During the summer of 2017, Leahy was attending a pre-law summer camp at the University of Pennsylvania. The campers were challenged to come up with a product idea and present it to the judges. Leahy said his group loved the idea of a misfortune cookie.

The group made the cookies by going to a local Chinese restaurant, getting as many cookies as they could and changing out the fortunes for their own misfortunes by hand. He said they went door to door selling the cookies for $1, and people loved them.

An example of a misfortune is “a good feeling you have will soon pass.”

A few years after this, Leahy said he felt like he had enough time to return to the idea and make it into a reality.

With the help of his close friends, Leahy launched his company before Valentine’s Day to try and get his product out there for the big gift-giving holiday. He said that in the future, he would like to come out with more themed cookie packs for holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

According to the Calamity Cookies website, a calamity cookie is a cookie with a less than fortunate fortune inside.

“They can be given as a gift or, if you’re a little sadistic, you can get them for yourself,” the website reads. “The fortunes are sure to amuse or upset the recipient, making them a great gift for a friend or friendly rival. Get them for that person in your life who you wish would be a little less lucky or who you just want to knock down a peg or two.”

Leahy writes all of the misfortunes himself then sends them to an online custom fortune cookie manufacturer.

“I have a giant document with over 100 (misfortunes) now,” he said. “I go through them with my friends and I’m like, is this funny?”

He said, eventually, if the business becomes lucrative enough, he’d like to improve the product and make the fortune cookies himself.

After receiving the custom cookies, he packages them in Chinese take out boxes with crinkle confetti inside to protect the cookies.

The cookie packs come with five fortune cookies and cost $12, but Fordham students can use the code “Fordham” to get $4 off and have the cookie pack hand-delivered to their dorm. He said anyone can order the cookies, but right now they mostly serve Fordham students.

“The goal is to eventually grow past being just a Fordham business and becoming a cool gag gift, novelty thing that anyone can buy,” he said.

Annika Fagerstrom, FCRH ’21, said she thought they might be a bit disheartening to hand out all the time, but thinks they’re a fun, well-made gag gift for friends.

Dylan Hakim, FCRH ’23, said he was initially surprised because he did not know it was not a normal fortune cookie.

“I realized the whole gimmick of these cookies was that they were supposed to be bad fortunes, and I got a good laugh out of it,” he said.

Hakim said he probably would not go out of his way to buy them, but could see their main customer base being small restaurants who might want to pull a joke on their patrons.

Leahy said his goals going forward are to sell all of his inventory, turn a profit and see where the business goes. He said that if it turns out that people are not interested in buying the product, he wants to pivot and see what else he can do along the lines of misfortunes.

“What else can these be turned into that people might enjoy more than fortune cookies,” he said.

Leahy said he initially started the company as a way to make extra money on the side, but also as a fun passion project that challenges him creatively.

“It’s been a really fun experience. I’ve had a great time,” he said. “My friends are behind me and in the super basic way, it’s just fulfilling, regardless of how much money I’m making. If people continue to buy and show interest and get these as gifts for whoever and people enjoy them, that’s excellent.”