During 2017, iconic bakery brand Otis Spunkmeyer will celebrate its 40th anniversary milestone. In order to learn more about the brand, its origins and how it has changed and grown through the years, we reached out to Charice Grace, brand director, Otis Spunkmeyer, Los Angeles.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What are the origins of the Otis Spunkmeyer brand?
Charice Grace: Otis Spunkmeyer has fascinating origins that date back to 1976, when Ken Rawlings was walking through a local LA mall when he smelled freshly baked cookies. It was here that he realized that he could make a living creating these delicious foods. When it came time to pick a name for the company, Ken actually turned to his 12-year old daughter who came up with the name “Otis Spunkmeyer.”
The first Otis Spunkmeyer store was in Oakland, CA, and by 1983 20 new stores had opened throughout the state. It was in the mid-1980s that Ken began transitioning the company from retail to wholesale. By the end of the 1980s, over 40,000 restaurants, delis, cafeterias and hospitals were serving Otis Spunkmeyer’s fresh cookies.
DJP: How has the brand changed and grown through the years?
CG: This company in particular is ever-evolving. While originally a retail shop, over time it transitioned to selling frozen cookie dough wholesale to schools, hospitals, restaurants and foodservice businesses. In 2006, Otis Spunkmeyer was acquired by ARYZTA, a global leader in specialty baking. We launched our first retail line of foods in early 2016 and ensured that all foods in the line were made without artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose corn syrup and no partially hydrogenated oils.
DJP: Historically, what are the best-selling and most-popular Otis Spunkmeyer foods?
CG: We’re famous for our Chocolate Chunk Cookie, which remains one of the best-selling and most-popular treats from the company. The retail line added a wide range of snacks, including Loaf Cakes, Crème Cakes, Muffins, Mini Cupcakes and more, which have all gained popularity among consumers.
DJP: What prompted the desire to create the new retail Otis Spunkmeyer line?
CG: We’ve seen that now, more than ever, people are actually paying attention to the ingredients in their food. Parents want to feel good about the snacks they are giving to their children, and people want to make better snacking choices.
We’ve been a foodservice staple for years, but we wanted to be easily accessible to our loyal customers and wanted to expand our food selection to include a variety of new and tasty individually wrapped snacks. From the classic Chocolate Chunk Cookie to the Vanilla Crème Cake or the Iced Lemon Loaf Cake to the Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, we have something that everyone will enjoy! Customers can purchase foods from the retail line at local grocery stores nationwide and on Amazon.
DJP: What are the newest additions to the Otis Spunkmeyer brand?
CG: We’re thrilled to announce that the retail line will be expanding throughout this year! In early April, Super Cookies and Strawberry Frosted Crème Cakes will be available for purchase, with even more snacks rolling out throughout the year.
DJP: What does “No Funky Stuff” mean?
CG: It means that we’ve removed all artificial flavors, colors, high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils from our foods. Our retail line has a shelf life of 10–60 days, with clear labeling on every box so that our customers knows that what they are eating is fresh.
DJP: What’s next for Otis Spunkmeyer?
CG: Otis Spunkmeyer is very much looking forward to our 40th anniversary, which we’re eager to celebrate this year! We’re excited to introduce new foods to the retail line and increase our fundraising efforts nationwide. Otis Spunkmeyer is the No. 1 selling foodservice cookie dough in North America and the No. 1 selling cookie dough in fundraising, so we as a company are eager to grow our fan base with this retail line throughout 2017.