Amos was born on July 1, 1936, in Tallahassee, Florida. He moved to New Year city in 1948 to live with his Aunt Della after his parents separated. He was encouraged by his Aunt Della's ability to bake, so he enrolled in a vocational high school for culinary arts for two years. His Aunt was the one who inspired the famous chocolate chip and a pecan cookie recipe. After attending a culinary arts school, Amos served four years in the U.S. Air Force.
In 1962, he became the first black agent working for the legendary William Morris Agency (W.M.A.) in New York City. After leaving the mailroom, he discovered and signed Simon and Garfunkel, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and Patty LaBelle, to name a few. Then, he became head of the agency's newly formed rock 'n' roll department where he represented music legends like Sam Cooke and Diana Ross. He would send home-baked chocolate chip cookies to celebrities to entice them to meet with him and maybe sign a deal to be represented by the William Morris Agency.
In 1967, he decided to leave the famous William Morris Agency in New York to move to Los Angeles to start his management company. He managed a South African trumpet player, Hugh Masakela. His first client decided to drop him from representation after Amos tried to move him and his family to California with him. This management company didn't prosper, so he then used his agent skills to manage himself. Amos made cookies for "therapy" at entertainment parties and gatherings. These cookies received an overwhelming response, so in 1974, he decided to start his cookie company, Famous Amos with $25,000. The business began with a store on West Sunset Boulevard and North Formosa Avenue in Hollywood, California. In the first year, he sold $300,000 worth of cookies, followed by more than $1,000,000 in sales in the store's second year of operation. Famous Amos was also picked up by Bloomingdales Department store and later by other specialty stores such as Baskin-Robbins, T.G.I. Fridays, and Starbucks.
Within ten years, he sold the company to Shansby Group. After selling the famous recipe, he started Chip & Cookie Company. The focus was on real, all-natural ingredients, but he used the same method and was later sued by Shansby Group for violating their contract. In 1992, Amos started another company, Uncle Noname Cookies. In 1998, Keebler signed Amos and his Famous Amos brand for the recipe, branding and us of Amos as the spokesman for the Famous Amos brand. Although he has sold Famous Amos, he has still been a large part of it. Keebler called him in years ago to do a taste testing of the cookies. Amos didn't approve of the cookie. They had changed the ingredients by adding artificial flavors to make it less expensive and faster to make. However, Amos told them to change the recipe and add more natural ingredients. The Kellogg Company purchased Keebler in 2001, and the brand is now a part of Kellogg's.
Currently, Amos lives in Hawaii with his wife and kids. He continued to run Chip & Cookie company and Uncle Noname Cookies in local Hawaii stores along with a new company, Uncle Wally's Family of Muffins. They have sold in over 5,000 stores in the United States, including Walmart and Costco. Amos has received many honors and awards, including the President's Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, the Horatio Alger Award, and the National Literacy Honors Award. He is also a motivational speaker and has written ten books, including an inspirational work entitled Watermelon Credo: The Book. According to Amos, his success as an author and a motivational speaker is due in no small part to his Aunt Della: "[Aunt Della's] basic recipe for cookies became the foundation for much of my success.
As you will see and hear from the video below, he is not receiving any money from Kellogg. Although they still use all branding of Famous Amos cookies, including the name and his face. I would love to see that contract he signed with Shansby Group. However, maybe after he breached his contract, all bets were off. I don't know! But I find this extremely bothersome, especially since he was a former agent. He was not just any agent, but a reputable one who I studied during my college years before and as I became a talent agent myself. However, one thing I have learned from my personal experience is that I am not my best manager. It is very different when representing others.
What can we teach our kids about this story?
Amos and his wife established the Read It Loud! foundation to promote reading to children.
"I encourage parents to read aloud to children at least from birth to 6 years old. I’d really like them to do it beforehand while they’re in the womb," Amos said in a MidWeek interview.