Robert Mina and Charice Grace, Otis Spunkmeyer
Robert Mina (left), vice-president of operations for Aryzta, and Charice Grace, brand director for Otis Spunkmeyer, bring together a sharp operational focus and the fun of an iconic brand.
Photos by Vito Palmisano

LOS ANGELES — Otis Spunkmeyer knows how to have a good time. Well, not the man — there actually is no “Mr. Spunkmeyer” — but the brand. After 40 years in business, the past decade under Aryzta AG ownership, this Los Angeles-based company has taken its iconic cookie brand from a California retail chain to a leader in the food service sector.

Today, it’s come full circle with foods sold directly to consumers through retail, club, dollar and c-store channels, not to mention offerings in school fundraising programs. And the company is doing it all with the nostalgic whimsy that is quintessentially Otis.

“What we say about Otis Spunkmeyer is that we’re fun. We’re retro. We’re witty,” said Charice Grace, brand director. “That’s how we were established, and it’s how we continue — in a fun way.”

Happy birthday, Mr. Spunkmeyer

Born as a fictional name, Otis Spunkmeyer was the idea of the late founder Ken Rawling’s daughter Kimberly, a tween at the time. Now celebrating the big 4-0, the brand is practically a household name.

Beginning as a concept to take on the cookie shops like Mrs. Fields, Otis Spunkmeyer soon branched out to deliver frozen cookie dough to food service establishments, which would eventually lead to its No. 1 ranking in food service desserts for both its frozen cookie dough and finished cookies.

After dominating the food service space, Otis Spunkmeyer moved into school fundraising by offering its frozen cookie dough for purchase. It was a sector dear to Mr. Rawlings, who often hosted employees’ kids in after-school activities and even on tours via the company’s twin-engine vintage jet. “Ken Rawlings was a big advocate of supporting his employees and associates and their families and giving back through various organizations,” Ms. Grace said. “We’ve always given back, and it’s always been fun.”