Business and Commerce

Food and Food Service Industries

Who is “Famous” Amos?

In 1975, Wally “Famous” Amos (1936–) was the first black to open a cookie-only retail store; his was the first black-owned gourmet cookie company to build a national following. The Tallahassee, Florida, native relocated to New York City where he lived with his Aunt Della, who loved to cook, often preparing her special chocolate chip cookie for him. Amos held a variety of jobs, including mail clerk for the William Morris Company in New York. In 1967 he moved to Los Angeles where he worked on his own as a talent agent. To supplement his income, he used his Aunt Della’s recipe and began baking chocolate chip cookies that he distributed. He opened a small shop on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, which became the first of its kind dedicated to gourmet chocolate chip cookies. Two years after he founded Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies, his profits grew and his cookies were nationally distributed. Although he made millions in his business, by 1985 the company began to report a loss in revenue. Rather than lose the company, Amos sold the controlling share to the Bass Brothers of Fort Worth, Texas. He remained on the company’s board as vice chairman, but later was no more than a company spokesman. He left the company in 1989. In 1992 he started another company, The Uncle Noname Cookie Company and offered five varieties of gourmet cookies. He was prevented from using the Famous Amos name.


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