By Bria Overs
Originally appeared in Word in Black
He’s a familiar face on television and movie screens. You may know him as Commissioner Ervin Burrell in “The Wire,” Head Orderly Barney Matthews in “Hannibal,” Chief Elliott Gordan in “White Chicks,” or even Prince Akeem’s New York City landlord from “Coming to America.”
But those are just characters. The man behind these memorable performances is Frankie Faison, an award-winning actor of nearly 50 years with over 130 credits.
While he knows his on-screen roles are why you’ll recognize him, what Faison, 74, wants you to know him for is his newest project: Fabulous Frankie’s Original Granola.
“I used to love oatmeal and cereals, like Frosted Flakes, Cheerios, and Cornflakes, but I loved granola because it was different,” he says. “But something was missing in every bag I ate, and I very quickly got bored with it.”
Granola Is Big Business
With competition like General Mills, PepsiCo, Quaker Oats, and Aldi, standing out in the granola market may be Faison’s next challenge.
According to Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Department, these giants helped generate an estimated $637.1 million in 2019 from their variety of granola products.
Before the pandemic, the department estimated a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% for the industry.
Despite the steep competition, Faison knows he has something special. Before exploring a business venture, Faison spent years making granola as a beloved hobby. He’s given away hundreds of bags on sets, while traveling, and to visitors.
Faison was introduced to a granola recipe by a friend, and his wife, Samantha, has played a significant role in making his granola what it is today. With a background as a professional cook and bakery owner, she helped him master how to maintain the crunchiness of the granola.
He perfected his recipe over time, creating the granola from mostly organic foods. It’s also nut-free, gluten-free, and vegan, featuring cranberries, cherries, raisins, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and maple syrup.
“The thing about granola that’s most important to me is how it holds its crispiness,” he says. Whether eating it plain and even when it’s put in “milk or ice cream.”
“We put it [in the store], and it started flying off the shelves,” Faison says. “People loved it. And they kept coming back for more. They couldn’t get enough, and we couldn’t stock it up fast enough.”
Small Business Challenges
The Faison’s are still in a pre-launch phase with preparations to accept pre-orders online in the coming weeks and months, partly because of the difficulties of starting a business.
There are rules for launching a food product. And finding a way to produce it without compromising the quality is a top priority and their biggest challenge.
“I want this product to grow into something people will find, and it will bring a smile to their faces,” Frankie says.
In the meantime, the ongoing strikes in Hollywood pushed Frankie to think of how he could use something he loves to help the community he loves. So, for every bag sold, Faison plans to donate $1 to the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Foundation.
Frankie hopes you’ll add his fabulous and original granola to the list of things you remember him for.