Tallahassee’s Best Kept Secret: Wally Amos

By Cristi McKee | Photo: Christina Branco

You most likely have heard of, eaten, or seen someone eat a Famous Amos cookie. But, did you know that the founder of this cookie empire was born in Tallahassee?

Known as “Famous Amos,” Wally Amos, the Tallahassee-born founder of Famous Amos Cookies, is a legend in not only the food industry, but also the entertainment business. Due to trademarking issues and the need to sell his company, Amos sold the rights to his own name, Famous Amos, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his love for cookies and the food industry after this occurred. Also the co-founder and shareholder of Uncle Wally’s Muffin Co., Amos is now running a new cookie empire, The Cookie Kahuna.

Born Wallace Amos, Amos was born here in town in 1936. He lived here with his parents until their divorce when he was 12 before moving to Manhattan, New York. He attended Food Trades Vocational High School before dropping out to join the United States Air Force, where he served in Honolulu, Hawaii from 1954 until 1957. He earned his high school equivalency diploma, was honorably discharged from the Air Force, and went to college to be a secretary.

In 1975, with a loan from Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy, Amos opened his first cookie shop. The business proved to be a huge success and was distributed on a national scale, with Famous Amos cookies being found in stores all over the country. Amos, being an optimistic, passionate, and bubbly character, became a public figure in the 1980’s. He made guest appearances on TV shows, wrote several books, like “The Cookie Never Crumbles,” and hosted a TV show in 1987 called “Learn to Read,” where adults would learn to read and teach others to do the same.

When financial issues arose, Famous Amos as a company was sold, and trademarking issues forced Amos to lose the rights to his very name, Famous Amos. However, soon after, The Uncle Noname’s Cookie Company was founded by Amos. Then, in 1994, Lou Avignone and Amos began Uncle Noname Gourmet Muffins, which is still producing muffins today and is wildly successful.

Amos’ newest cookie venture was launched in 2014 with his company, The Cookie Kahuna. It is based on Kailua, Hawaii, U.S, where Amos and his wife have resided since 1977. While these cookies are exclusively sold only in Hawaii, Amos is a great example of an entrepreneur and Tallahassee is proud to call him one of its own.

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