It took Hungry Monkey’s founder, Cindy Kienzle, 25 years to start her baking company. Almost everything good in her life came late – she married her husband, Tom, at 47, had a baby days before her 49th birthday and started Hungry Monkey two years later on her daughter Lily’s 2nd birthday!
Cindy created a chocolate chip banana bread recipe that friends, family and colleagues loved. Everyone always told her she should sell it, but since she had a secure marketing career, she continued to share it with friends, co-workers & family. Fate intervened when Cindy lost her job and was looking to find something with more flexibility to take Lily, who has special needs, to all of her therapies. The Hungry Monkey Baking Company started in 2010, almost by accident…a friend encouraged Cindy to bake her signature chocolate chip banana bread for a local two-day charity event benefiting children with learning disabilities. Her chocolate chip banana bread sold out both days. Soon people were calling, asking if they could stop by to pick up a loaf or two from her home. People needed their “fix,” so Cindy rented a commercial kitchen and got busy; six weeks later, The Hungry Monkey Baking Company®, LLC., was born in a local farmers market! Three months later Hungry Monkey began selling in all Sunset Foods, a suburban Chicago supermarket chain.
Hungry Monkey’s Namesake, eating her mom’s Signature Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, on the first day of business at the Farmers’ Market, May 29, 2010 – her 2nd Birthday!
Cindy and Lily on their first day of business at the Northfield Farmers Market, May 29, 2010.
Kids, moms, and dads, along with the local press, continued to spread the word. In the early days, friends, family – and even customers – would come to help her wrap, box…and even deliver to stores!
Four months after starting, ABC 7’s James Beard Award-winning food reporter, The Hungry Hound (Steve Dolinsky), featured Hungry Monkey in their weekly news segment.
Today, Hungry Monkey is sold online, at all Sunset Foods and The Grand Markets, through Fresh Midwest (a local food and produce home delivery service), The Soup Fairy, Lake Forest College/Parkhurst Dining, and more. Hungry Monkey is also available for special events and corporate gifting.
“It’s been a very fun and challenging ride, and I’ve learned to believe in myself again. What I’ve learned most is that, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I always had the power to live my dream (with a little help from many fairy Godmothers, good friends & family, one very supportive husband, and my daughter who continues to inspire me).”
Cindy Kienzle, Chief Baking Officer/Founder, Hungry Monkey Baking®, LLC.