It was a hardly-noticed little story in the business sections of the local papers. A new Chip and Cookie shop is opening in Waikiki. Big deal. Waikiki is overflowing with shops of all kinds; so here’s another.
The shop is expanding beyond its original location in Kailua, a residential area on Windward Oahu.
The owner is Wally Amos. That’s right, the guy you probably remember as “Famous Amos,” who had a big part in putting chocolate-chip cookies on the retailing map.
A native of Florida, Amos moved to New York when he was 12 to live with his aunt, Della Bryant, who assumed a parental role and was the first person to bake him chocolate chip cookies.
After four years in the Air Force, he entered the entertainment industry at the bottom, in the mailroom of the William Morris Talent Agency, where he eventually became their first African-American agent. He was the first to book many of the top performers of that era: The Supremes, Simon and Garfunkel and Marvin Gaye among them.
He learned to unwind on weekends by taking up a new hobby. Baking chocolate chip cookies relaxed him and made him reminisce about his Aunt Della’s cookies.
In 1975, Amos came up with the idea that he could sell his gourmet chocolate chip cookies as an entertainment personality. His first freestanding store was on Sunset Boulevard, in Hollywood. Soon he became a national personality renowned not only for his cookies but also for his ebullient and outgoing personality as well.
In 1985, a series of events led the company’s changing hands, and that meant giving up the name, even though it’s his given name. (It’s now owned by the Kellogg Company.)
Wally Amos always wanted to use his wide recognition as a means to draw attention to an important cause. That cause became literacy. He dedicated his efforts to Literacy Volunteers of America, for whom he served as National Spokesperson from 1979 to 2002. As a literary advocate, Wally uses his still well-known name to support educational causes and serves on the Boards of the National Center for Family Literacy, Read to Me International, and Communities in Schools. In 2005, Wally Amos and his wife, Christine, founded the Chip & Cookie Read Aloud Foundation, a publicly supported 501(c) (3) organization, to promote reading aloud to children. A Hawaii resident since the early 1990’s, he has combined his dedication to literacy with his love for making cookies. He’s back in the kitchen.
He works with his wife Christine Harris-Amos, who created “Chip and Cookie,” two dolls fashioned in the image of “boy and girl chocolate chip cookies.”
So if you happen to run across a little cookie shop in Waikiki while you’re on vacation in Hawaii, drop in. You might run into somebody famous.