Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press: Cambridge] 2000, Volume II "China" (p.
Chinese food became popular with young cosmopolitans in the 1920s because it was considered exotic.
Emphasis on basic meat and vegetables served in standard (sweet & sour, soy) sauces with fried rice became the norm. Some "classic" Chinese menu choices such as fortune cookies are not Chinese at all! Molly O'Neil's article "The Chop Suey Syndrome: Americanizing the Exotic," New York Times, July 26, 1989 (C1) explains the process.
In many authentic Asian restaurants, there were two menus: one for people of Asian descent and another for tourists. "When Europe began trading with the Orient, the seaport of Canton became the gateway to the West.
Coincidentally, this period also marks the genesis of fusion cuisine, a convergence of fresh foods, exotic tastes and interesting textures.
From the beginning, Asian dishes intended for American diners were adapted to suit expectations.