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In honor of Black History Month, we pay tribute to Wallace "Wally" Amos, Jr., “the King of cookies”. He was a trailblazer on many fronts as the first black talent agent for William Morris, discovering Simon & Garfunkel and working with many greats including Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. He later founded Famous Amous, a cookie company with a modified version of his aunt’s recipe, opening his first store in Los Angeles, California in 1975. Thanks to his amazing promoting ability, he grew the company from $300,000 revenue in the first year to $12 million by 1982. Famous Amos eventually became a household name, as did Wally Amos.
After about a decade of success, mismanagement forced Amos to start selling off parts of his company. He ultimately lost the company to investors in 1988. He couldn’t even use his own name in future cookie endeavors as it was trademarked by his former company, so he gave a go at Uncle Noname’s Cookie Company. This company eventually collapsed and filed for Chapter 11 in 1997. He then gave a go at the muffin business, co-founding Uncle Noname Gourmet Muffins, which later became Uncle Wally’s Muffin Co. This company was acquired by Give and Go in 2017. In 2014, Amos opened a cookie store in Hawaii under the name, “The Cookie Kahuna”. Amos went on Shark Tank with The Cookie Kahuna as the oldest Entrepreneur ever seen on the show. He did not get a deal. This company later failed, and Wally had to launch a GoFundMe page in March 2017 just to get back on his feet. In an interview, Amos said: “If you sit around starting to feel sorry for yourself, and blaming everyone else for your position in life, it is like being in quicksand,'' he said. ''In quicksand, if you start flailing all about and panicking with each movement you go in deeper, but if you just stay calm and look about, chances are you'll see a twig or something you can reach to pull yourself out. Or, if you stay there long enough someone will come and rescue you.''
The flip side of blazing a trail is that being the first comes at a cost. It gets messy and can be painful, as you blaze a trail your feet get dirty, you get hit with unexpected rocky paths along the way; but you create a smoother path for those that come after you. So today, we honor Wally Amos for the path he forged and the lessons he learned so that future entrepreneurs in the cookie world and beyond, could have a smoother path; should we take the time to learn the history.
Another fun fact we’d like to share is that Amos has also written or co-written 10 books and has advocated literacy, helping thousands of adults learn to read, this is a success story that will have continuous impacts on generations. Another great lesson to learn from this trailblazer, create a legacy around positively impacting the community. This can not ever be taken away from you.