I grew up eating Wally Amos’ “Famous Amos” cookies. Especially when Costco started selling them in bulk packages, I couldn’t get enough of them. I didn’t realize however that the Famous Amos cookies I was eating was not much like the original.
In 2001 Kellogg bought Famous Amos from Keebler, who bought it in 1998 from the President Baking Company. The cookie brand since its inception has been bought and sold half a dozen times. Understandably each transfer the cookie recipe was reformulated.
Unfortunately according to Wally, you lose out on the taste when they are no longer hand-made and don’t have the high-quality ingredients he originally used. In fact when Keebler asked Wally to be spokesperson for the brand when they first acquired Famous Amos, he wanted certain changes to be made to be closer to the original product.
Wally now has a new cookie venture called The Cookie Kahuna. He brought samples to the podcast interview and pointed out that “these are the original handmade cookies that I started with.” I popped one in my mouth and was in cookie heaven (I like to think I know my cookies since I eat so many of them:-))! I can see why the company took off when he first started it!
Wally Amos was born on July 1, 1936, in Tallahassee, Florida. After a four-year stint in the Air Force, he started in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency. In 1962 he became the first black talent agent in their history, signing Simon & Garfunkel and other huge artists. He later headed the agency’s rock ‘n’ roll department, working with Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Cooke.
In 1967 he moved to Los Angeles, where he started his personal management company. To differentiate himself from other companies, he used a modified version of his Aunt Della’s cookie recipe as his calling card.
With seed money from Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy, he opened up his first cookie store in 1975, and the rest is history!
I was recently in Boston at Babson College for the Goldman Sachs Small Business Program. On the Wall of Famous Entrepreneurs at the top-ranked entrepreneurial college, Wally’s profile is one of the dozen or so displayed. I remember rereading his story and googling him for more information. I had heard somewhere that he lived in Hawaii.
Little did I know that a few days later on my way home from Boston, Wally was on the same flight I was! We struck up a conversation and I asked if he wanted to be on my podcast. I am so thankful he accepted!
In this podcast, Wally talks about his past and valuable learning points that everyone needs to listen to! Here are some incredible things we talk about in this podcast:
- The history of the chocolate chip cookie (I actually had no idea how they started!)
- How tragedy in his family became an opportunity of a lifetime
- How and why he got started in the cookie business
- Two things that made his cookies so special
- How his cookies took off!
- Important learning lessons from when he lost the company he built from scratch
- His new cookie venture, plans for expansion, and why he named it “The Cookie Kahuna”
- Wally’s recipe for success in life, that every person, entrepreneur or not, needs to follow
- And much more!
Wally has written ten books, is a motivational speaker, a TV star, and actively promotes literacy. You can order his cookies at TheCookieKahuna.com. He has three flavors, all three were gone instantly when he brought them to my office!
You click below to buy his books!