The image and taste of the legendary traditional chocolate biscuit Famous Amos have become synonymous with the crispy delicacies he sells.
Indeed, when a Malaysian claimed to crack Famous Amos' secret recipe, the internet went wild.
However, the company remains unimpressed.
"Attempts by bakers to crack the recipe are welcome," said David Chan, director of Famous Amos Singapore. "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery."
The brand name was even used as political satire to summarize the tingling of local politician Jamus Lim during the GE 2020 elections and to coined the term “famous jamus”.
Singapore outlets keep stable
Famous Amos are so famous (pun intended) that they have faded into the background as one of the brands that you half expect to exist as natural features of local geography like McDonald’s or 7-Eleven.
It is partly due to its iconic status that Famous Amos pandemics like COVID-19 can hardly tremble.
Photo credit: Famous Amos
“The famous Amos was certainly not spared the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. (It has) stopped some of our plans for the time being, ”David admits.
Despite the closure of Famous Amos retail stores during the breaker period, the main source of their revenue is still derived from the shop fronts, although performance varies.
“Business in the central region has not developed as well as that in the suburbs. The exception would be the Paragon socket, which was really brought to life during the circuit breaker phase, ”says David.
Famous Amos reportedly saw a 30 percent drop in sales in the early days of the virus outbreak, but experienced a rapid recovery that matched the June 2019 performance.
In Singapore alone, the famous Amos Fresh Bake Studios have a total of 20 branches across the island.
“We are more conservative with our expenses and try to get projects that are not urgent under control. (The silver lining is that) There was plenty of time to experiment with new products. "
David also emphasizes that despite drying up jobs during the pandemic, Famous Amos Singapore is actively expanding and hiring new people.
A history of acquisitions: the fall of Wally Amos and the rise of Ferrero
The Famous Amos brand serves pastries such as cookies, brownies, muffins in the form of packaged goods that are sold in supermarkets, as well as freshly baked goods that are sold in sales outlets.
The brand belongs to the Ferrero Group (again Ferrero International S.A), which includes F&B subsidiaries such as Ferrero Pralines, Nutella, Kinder and Tic Tac.
The conglomerate sells its products in more than 170 countries. In 2019, the group closed the financial year with sales of € 11.4 billion (S $ 18.1 billion), an increase of 6.2 percent compared to the previous year.
Despite its cult status today, Famous Amos began in 1975 as a tiny biscuit shop in Los Angeles, led by founder Wally Amos.
Photo credit: Famous Amos
When he dropped out of school, Wally was a former talent agent who was armed only with a network of prominent friends and entrepreneurial zeal.
The "Cookie Man" founded the original Famous Amos Cookie Company with $ 25,000 (S $ 34,5000) borrowed from the singers Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy.
By 1982, business was booming and cookies sales were $ 12 million ($ 16.5 million).
America was enchanted by Wally Amos' story from rag to wealth, but the business started to fail. In 1985 Famous Amos sales decreased to $ 10 million (S $ 13.8 million).
A number of partnerships with investors who ate Amos' stake in the company led to the purchase of Famous Amos by the Shansby Group in 1988, and Wally was referred to as a poster child.
From then on, the company changed hands several times, eventually falling under the management of Kellogg, then Ferrero Group, for $ 1.3 billion (S $ 1.8 billion) in 2019.
Perhaps the silver lining of the changeover owned by Famous Amos was the successful revival of the legendary cookie brand with corresponding profits.
The outlook remains positive despite the pandemic
"Without diving into numbers, the brand has grown positively and steadily over the past decade," comments David cryptically.
"Instead of following trends, consistency is the key to the success of Famous Amos in Singapore."
Photo credit: Famous Amos
A Channel News Asia report estimated that local F&B revenue in Singapore fell 36 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
Smaller companies in the F&B industry were crippled by the pandemic, but larger brands like Famous Amos were not spared.
Aside from the closure of businesses, supply line disruptions, and concerns about coronavirus transmission through food packaging, pastry shops have experienced several fears of coronaviruses.
The Ferrero Group closed a plant in Brantford, Ontario in April after seven of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.
In March, however, Ferrero announced plans to increase investment in China.
The company took advantage of the pandemic and said that "(they) expect the epidemic to bring new opportunities and business models to China, particularly in the areas of e-commerce and consumption," said David.
"It can certainly be said that the shops are still baking and the cookies will still be available to customers in the future."
Selected image source: Mother ship / Famous Amos