Otis Spunkmeyer - The Early Days
Ah, the smell of fresh baked cookies! It reminds us of growing up, mom baking in the kitchen, sharing good times with friends and family. It can also be the inspiration for a new business. In 1976, Ken Rawlings was walking through the Fox Hills mall in Los Angeles when he first took in that heavenly scent and realized that his future should be in cookies. He decided that a chain of cookie shops would be a great idea. With his 12 year old daughter coining the name “Otis Spunkmeyer,” the company was born. His first store was in Oakland. By 1979, Ken had left his day job to run Otis Spunkmeyer full time.
By 1983, there were 20 successful Otis Spunkmeyer stores in California, but the industry was changing. Sensing an opportunity, Ken made the switch from retail to wholesale. Manufacturing and distributing frozen cookie dough to foodservice accounts proved to be a very smart decision. Otis Spunkmeyer started distributing its frozen cookie dough by opening small depots or “sales centers” all across the country. Fleets of Otis Spunkmeyer trucks operated from each sales center to service local customers directly. By the end of the 1980’s, Otis Spunkmeyer had 40,000 accounts across the country. It seems everyone wanted to sell fresh baked cookies.
“Cookies Make the World Go Round.”
Driving Towards Industry Leadership
Pioneering the portable and affordable fresh baked cookie program, which included pre-portioned cookie dough, a cookie oven, branded displays and point-of-sale materials, Otis Spunkmeyer found an untapped niche that proved to be popular with food service facilities everywhere - K-12 schools, colleges and universities, business dining locations, healthcare facilities, independent and chain restaurants and fast food outlets.
With a premiere baked goods brand established, Otis Spunkmeyer soon added muffins, brownies, pastries, coffee cakes, and bagels to its product line and expanded into supermarkets, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, drugstore chains, military bases, vending merchandisers, fundraising organizations, and service-oriented businesses including banks, real estate offices, car dealerships, and other businesses.
Otis Spunkmeyer also aggressively grew in international markets to truly become a global food brand. Thanks to Founder Ken Rawlings and his daughter’s great idea, the unique name has proven to be one of the company’s most enduring assets.
The Next Ten Years – Making a Difference One Cookie at a Time
If there is one thing more powerful than our love and respect for the magic of fresh baked cookies, it’s the loyalty that our faithful customers show to our brand each and every day. Foodservice operators consistently rate Otis Spunkmeyer the highest for consistency, overall quality, flavor/taste, and marketing support. Consumers continue to write us letters sharing their wonderful experiences with our brand. Otis Spunkmeyer is proud to be able to deliver quality and convenience to our customers. And though the world continues to change, fresh baked cookies remain the same – tasty, affordable, and part of life’s special moments.
So, what will the next few years bring? The future will prove to be an exciting one for Otis Spunkmeyer as we continue to expand into more markets, launch new and exciting products, give back to the communities in which we do business, and most importantly - WOW our customers. Working closely with our partners and customers, and with the support of our parent company, Aryzta, we will fulfill our vision of “Otis Loved Worldwide.” We look forward to putting smiles on the faces of more customers in the years to come.
We at Otis Spunkmeyer like to think of ourselves as a very special company with a fun spirit and an interesting and eventful history that continues to unfold. It’s a brand with heart, spirit, and passion. We invite you to see how you can be a part of the Otis story.
Contact us today for more information
Did You Know?
Otis Spunkmeyer ventured into numerous other businesses besides frozen sweet baked goods during its early days including burrito shops, roasted coffee beans, limousine service, and best known of all… Otis Spunkmeyer Air. Otis Spunkmeyer acquired and operated two vintage 1940’s era DC-3’s to provide air tours over the San Francisco Bay Area to the general public. Flights aboard Otis Spunkmeyer Air were a hit as they were used for everything from sightseeing tours to performing in-air weddings. One of Otis Spunkmeyer’s DC-3’s was the personal command post of Five Star General "Hap" Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Corps during World War II, when it was knows as a C-41. This flying legend was restored to its original glory by Otis Spunkmeyer and flown back to Europe in June 1994 to participate in ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Invasion.
For more information on our company timeline please click here.