The Famous Amos Collection consists primarily of business records, photographs, and newspaper clippings documenting the career and life of Wally Famous Amos and the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie company he created.
Scope and Contents:
The Famous Amos Collection consists primarily of business records, photographs, and newspaper clippings documenting the career of Wally Famous Amos and the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie. The bulk of the collection consists of newspaper clippings.
Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1970-1994 and undated, documents the professional life of Wally Amos. This series includes background information about the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie, awards, newspaper clippings describing Amos receiving his high school diploma, and drafts and published versions of Amos's writings the The Famous Amos Story and The Power in You.
Series 2, Advertising and Marketing Materials, 1975-1994 and undated consists of materials relating to the marketing and advertising of Famous Amos cookies. This series contains his marketing plan, promotional materials, press releases, posters, advertising mock-ups, and packaging samples.
Series 3, Photographs, 1975-1980 and undated, includes a variety of photographic prints, most of which are 5" x 7" or smaller. The series contains professional and publicity photographs of Wally Amos and Famous Amos products as well as personal photographs of Amos' family and friends. Film negatives and color slides of people are also included in this series.
Series 4, Press Materials, 1975-1996 and undated, is comprised of three subseries: Subseries 1, Clippings, 1975-1995 and undated; Subseries 2, Articles, 1976-1996; and Subseries 3, Scrapbooks and Wall Art, 1977-1981 and undated. The publicity materials in this series are primarily about Wally Amos, Famous Amos cookies, and his literacy efforts. The scrapbooks were assembled by Amos and contain additional clippings. Included in this subseries is a mounted 32" x 15" hand embroidered and appliquéd corduroy fabric panel that reads "Have a very brown day!"
Series 5, Correspondence, 1975-1985, includes postcards, business and personal letters, and drawings from young fans of Famous Amos cookies. This series also contains three guest registers in which visitors to the Famous Amos stores wrote comments.
Series 6, Literacy Activities, 1978-1984, includes promotional materials, articles, clippings, and a scrapbook related to Amos' literacy campaign.
Series 7, Community Service, 1978-1981, includes a scrapbook and correspondence from members of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Club and the Aliis Pintos Little League team of California.
The collection is arranged into seven series.
Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1970-1994 and undated
Series 2, Advertising and Marketing Materials, 1975-1994 and undated
Series 3, Photographs, 1975-1980 and undated
Series 4, Press Materials, 1975-1996 and undated
Subseries 1, Clippings, 1975-1995 and undated
Subseries 2, Articles, 1975-1996
Subseries 3, Scrapbooks and Wall Art, 1977-1981 and undated
Series 5, Correspondence, 1975-1985
Series 6, Literacy Activities, 1978-1984
Series 7, Community Service, 1978-1981
Biographical / Historical:
Wallace "Wally" Amos, Jr. (born July 1, 1936) is the founder of the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie brand. Amos grew up in Tallahassee, Florida before moving to New York City at age twelve. He initially attended the Food Trades Vocational High School, but dropped out to serve in the United States Air Force from 1953-1957. After serving in the military and being honorably discharged, he moved back to New York and began working at the William Morris Agency, where he became the company's first African American talent agent.
In March of 1975, upon the suggestion of a friend, he opened up his first cookie shop in Los Angeles, California. The Famous Amos company was financed with the help of philanthropist celebrities, including Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy. The cookies became nationally renowned and were sold throughout the United States. As Famous Amos cookies grew in popularity, so did Amos' significance as a celebrity figure. He appeared at book signings alongside entertainers and authors such as Bill Cosby, and he appeared as himself in a 1981 cameo on the television series Taxi.
In 1979, Amos began focusing his attention on advocating for child and adult literacy. He worked with the Literacy Volunteers of America and libraries, and he hosted a television series, Learn to Read, that encouraged literacy and taught children to read. Amos wrote a number of self-help and autobiographical books, includingThe Power in You, 1988 andThe Famous Amos Story, 1983. During this time he also worked as a motivational speaker.
Facing financial difficulties, Amos sold both the Famous Amos Company and the trademarked "Famous Amos" name in 1985. In 1994, Amos started a new muffin business, initially called Uncle Noname Gourmet Muffins, which has since been renamed Uncle Wally's Muffin Company. Wally Amos currently lives in Hawaii.
Materials at the National Museum of American History
The Division of Work and Industry holds artifacts (Panama hat, an Indian gauze shirt, a tin cookie container, and two paper cookie bags) related to this collection. See accession #:1980.0886.
Materials in Other Organizations
Chicago Public Library, Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature. Wally Papers Amos Papers, 1978-1996 (Accession #1979/01). The collection consists of correspondence, draft copies of manuscripts, memorabilia, awards and books.
Collection donated by Wally and Christine Amos in November, 1980.
The collection is open for research use.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no gurantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.