Wednesday, May 26, 1999

‘Famous’ Amos
a Keebler elf

Isle businessman Wally Amos
hooks up with Keebler Foods to
promote 'Famous Amos' cookies

Star-Bulletin staff


Hawaii businessman Wally Amos has signed on with the Keebler Foods Co. to promote his namesake creation, Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies.

The cookies will get a boost this spring from national distribution and new packaging by Elmhurst, Ill.-based Keebler, the second-largest U.S. cookie and cracker company behind Nabisco.

Info Box Keebler, which had 1998 net sales of $2.2 billion, added the Famous Amos brand in September when it bought Atlanta-based President Baking Co.

Amos, who left the Famous Amos company 10 years ago, is now a spokesman for Keebler, the company said. His return to cookie marketing came May 3 at the Food Marketing Institute show in Chicago.

Amos, who Keebler said will make dozens of appearances at trade shows, retailer events and other promotions under a multi-year agreement, was traveling and unavailable for comment. A former talent agent at the William Morris Agency, Amos started his own agency in Los Angeles and in 1970 began leaving cookies as calling cards with his clients and friends.

With the financial help of friends such as singers Helen Reddy and the late Marvin Gaye, Amos opened his first cookie store in 1975 on Sunset Boulevard. Amos moved to Hawaii two years later and opened a store on Keeaumoku Street.

Other stores were added at major shopping centers.

Famous Amos cookies became a success but faced imitators and Amos needed cash to survive. He added investors then ran into financial difficulties and lost control of the company. Between 1985 and 1989, the Famous Amos company changed hands four times.

While in Honolulu, Amos was active in charitable causes and in 1979 became national spokesman for Literacy Volunteers of America, a program to help teenagers and adults learn to read.

In the past 10 years, Amos has made a living through speaking engagements and from book royalties. Working out of his Lanikai home, Amos also has continued his efforts on literacy and with schools.

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