The Cookie Comeback King: Wally “Famous” Amos
Photo: David Croxford
Wally Amos has made many comebacks since losing ownership of his first cookie company, Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie Co., in the 1980s. Other ventures that have come and gone include Uncle Noname Cookie Co., Uncle Wally’s Muffin Co., Aunt Della’s Cookies and Chip & Cookie. The undauntable 77-year-old now has a new brand, The Cookie Kahuna, which brings back Amos’ cookie recipes from the 1970s. And yes, they use butter, thank you, not margarine.
I ALWAYS THOUGHT “That’s the way the cookie crumbles” is sort of demeaning to cookies. They don’t crumble. They maybe break up, but then you’ve just got lots of little cookie pieces around.
I WAS STATIONED at Hickam Air Force Base from 1954 to 1957. I wanted to stay in Hawai‘i after I got discharged, but six months before I got discharged, I was transferred. I left with the understanding that someday I would be back. Twenty years later, I came back to sell Famous Amos cookies at McInerny. That was a local retailer then.
I LOST A MILLION DOLLARS with Chip & Cookie, and I haven’t had a paycheck in years. Because I’m famous, people think I’m up in the stratosphere in terms of income and salary. Nothing could be further from the truth.
BEING FAMOUS is highly—very, very, very highly—overrated. It doesn’t mean you’re a nice person. It just means your image has been shown enough times. Hitler was famous. Big deal.
SINCE I LOST Famous Amos, I’ve always been looking to come back and sell the original cookie again. I am fortunate that, through all the tribulations, all the ups and downs that I’ve experienced, I still make a cookie that tastes good.
COOKIES ARE NOT possessive. Cookies are not judgmental. The only criteria that a cookie needs to live by, I feel, is it needs to taste good.
I’VE GIVEN the watermelon hat a hiatus, because I was tired of wearing it. Also, I’m wearing my Cookie Kahuna cap now. Look at it. It’s green with a little bit of red. Now it’s a slice of watermelon. You see how life works? It gives you opportunities to be creative.
YOU DIMINISH the taste of the cookie when you put any beverage in your mouth at the same time that you put the cookies in there. A cookie doesn’t want to be dunked in milk. How would you like your head to be dunked in milk?
AT ONE TIME I thought I had to take cookies with me wherever I went, because I was just so married to the whole concept of selling cookies. Sometimes I take cookies now, and sometimes I don’t. But I would never come to an interview without cookies. That’s suicidal.
I DON’T WANT to be called Cookie Kahuna. I am Wally Amos. I have a company called The Cookie Kahuna. Once I started a company called Famous Amos. But I’m not that anymore, and I have not been that for a long time. I’m not even who I was yesterday. Life constantly changes.
Did you know? The signature Panama hat and Indian gauze shirt of Famous Amos now reside in the advertising collection of the Smithsonian Institution.