Everyone was surprised to see the familiar face of Wally Amos in episode 3 of Shark Tank season 8. The Sharks recognized Famous Amos, an entrepreneurial success of the 1970s, almost immediately and were excited to hear how he made $12 million in 7 years in a small shop on Sunset Boulevard, California.
Mr. Amos recounted the generosity of his first investors, Helen Reddy and Marvin Gaye, who loaned him $25,000 when he didn’t even have a game plan. The initial success of his venture was a story for the entrepreneurial books, and so was his subsequent downfall.
The room fell silent when Mr. Amos revealed he no longer owns the rights of Famous Amos. He sold the company to an investor for $3 million after losing $2.5 million in 1988. After several acquisitions, the Famous Amos brand is now owned by the Kellogg Corporation.
He revived his brand in the 1990s but was sued by the new owners of Famous Amos. Mr. Amos now owns a muffin brand, Uncle Wally’s Muffin, but thinks cookies are his first calling.
He is still passionate about building a cookie brand and considers the Cookie Kahuna more than a means to replicate his past glory. Mr. Amos will be baking his cookies fresh on orders using his recipes from the 1970s.
What is the Cookie Kahuna?
The Cookie Kahuna is an ardent pursuit of Wally Amos, a TV celebrity and an entrepreneurial legend. Wally has referenced kahuna in the brand’s name as it is based in Hawaii.
Using his original recipes that have stood the test of time and generational preferences, the Cookie Kahuna brand offers three flavors: Butterscotch Macadamia, Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Pecan. The cookies are sold in small packs, 6-ounce each, and are a famous local treat.
Wally Amos appeared on Shark Tank with all the bravado of a celebrity. He danced to the lyrics of his self-composed song, “Cookies for Sharks,” eliciting cheerful responses from the Sharks.
Amos called out Kevin O’Leary for not being “wonderful” as he was the only one maintaining a stoic face during his performance. As the Sharks tasted his cookies, they accepted Wally Amos for who he was: a cookie legend!
The Famous Amos cookies were a nostalgic treat, and their delightful magic remained uncontested in the face of a shiver.
Once the initial merriment subsided, Wally Amos requested $50,000 for a 20% stake at a $250,000 valuation, and the Sharks immediately got down to business. Wally’s confidence wavered when the Sharks inquired about his brand’s profit and production.
He retrieved a folded paper from his pocket, admitting his business inadequacy. His inability to remember the costs disappointed all the Sharks; they wanted him to know these numbers by heart.
After Wally read the costs, the room was filled with an uncomfortable silence. Wally’s profit margin was less than 20%; he was making his cookies at the cost of $5.26/bag and selling them for $7.89.
Until his appearance on Shark Tank, Wally had raked in $36,215.97 in sales, which wasn’t nearly enough.
The Sharks pointed out that there is no structure to Wally’s business model. He was operating in borderline losses and had no strategy to turn the situation around. Barbara Corcoran’s brutally honest review of Wally’s past failures dampened his spirits.
She pointed out that his poor decision-making skills had left him with nothing; he had sold his name, brand, and even his personality; without them, his business lacked substance. She passed on the deal.
Mark Cuban cited “conflict of interests” as his reason for pulling out of the deal as he was already in the cookie business. Robert commended Wally’s passion for cookies but didn’t think his disregard for business made for a good deal; he was out.
Despite the history, Kevin didn’t want to deal with the challenges that came with a re-launch; he was out. Lori didn’t take the deal and advised Wally to know when to quit on a passion and pursue other prospects.
Mr. Amos looked visibly crushed at the disappointing outcome when he left the stage.
Our Review of the Cookie Kahuna
The Cookie Kahuna had the potential to gain fame as a local Hawaiian treat. The cookies offered sublime flavors and were chewy with a bite of crunch. Their delightful flavors had people picking on the crumbs until there were none left.
Wally had tried to revive the soul of his former brand, Famous Amos, without infringing the rights of the current owners. Still, his lack of business intellect proved to be a deadly chink in his armor—something that he hadn’t improved on despite what he went through in the past.
The Sharks were right to point out his disregard for a business structure; he loved the product but had no passion for business.
Wally shut down the Cookie Kahuna in 2018 and picked up Aunt Della’s Cookies in 2019, only to meet another dead-end. Currently, both businesses are dormant with no online activity, whereas Wally Amos has made no noise in recent years.
- Offers three flavors
- Delicious, fresh and chewy
- Only available in Hawaii
- Lacked exclusivity
- Has better and cheaper alternatives
Who is The Cookie Kahuna for?
The Cookie Kahuna was for everyone with a penchant for sweets and baked goods. Anyone who remembered the delectable flavors of the Famous Amos would seek the nostalgic flavors of these cookies. Wally Amos’ original recipes gave his cookies an artisan touch sought by gentry looking for finesse.
Are There Any Alternatives?
When the Cookie Kahuna was operational, they were up against Wally’s former brand, Famous Amos, and Mark Cuban’s Alyssa’s Bakery. Considering Cookie Kahuna’s limited availability, consumers flocked to its competitors, putting Cookie Kahuna out of business.
Our Final Thoughts
We think that if someone had lent Wally their business foresight and strategic intellect, the Cookie Kahuna would have survived the grind. Wally should have partnered up with someone who had what he lacked, but the oldest Shark Tank contestant continued with his trial-and-error route, digging a deeper hole for his brand.