Panama Hat

In 1975, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, Wally Amos opened his first chocolate chip cookie bakery. For years, this agent for performers such as Marvin Gaye, Bobby Goldsboro, and Dionne Warwick had loved making cookies, using his Aunt Della's recipe. The little cookies with pecans and lots of chocolate bits were favorites among Amos's Hollywood clients and friends in the entertainment industry. They convinced him to open his own cookie business, giving birth to Famous Amos Cookies.
Within a few years over two dozen Famous Amos cookie outlets had opened across the country. Retail cookie tins featured Wally Amos wearing a trademark straw hat and cotton shirt, clothing that he donated to the Smithsonian in 1980. The hat and shirt had become symbols of grass roots entrepreneurship and a mainstream African American business.
By the mid–1980s, Famous Amos Cookies had outgrown their founder. The business went through a series of new owners before its purchase by Keebler in 1998. Years earlier Wally Amos had turned to another interest, making personal appearances as a motivational speaker and writer, using the skills he had learned in the entertainment and baking industries to inspire audiences to follow their dreams, wherever they might lead.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
ca 1980
Amos, Wally
Physical Description
straw (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
African American
Food Culture
See more items in
Work and Industry: Occupations
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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