In a different way this time, Fry still putting smiles on people's faces

Former Huntington County resident Mike Fry, formerly "Happy the Hobo" of children's daytime TV fame, is now an Indianapolis businessman.
Photo provided.

Previously published Oct. 26, 2009.

For the past 30 years, Mike Fry has been putting smiles on the faces of countless people around the world.

Don't recognize the name? Well, between 1982 and 1990, Fry was more affectionately known as the original "Happy the Hobo," a star of the popular children's program on WFFT FOX 55, in Fort Wayne, "Happy's Place."

The show aired throughout the region of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. In 1990 Fry suddenly left the show to pursue other endeavors.

A 1979 graduate of Huntington North High School, Fry says he has always been a goal-setter.

"I had always talked about having my own TV show since high school," Fry states. "I was inspired by another goal-setter and high achiever, John Grogen and made a list of 167 things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. While I was with the show, I often spoke to kids at high schools about the importance of setting goals and striving for them."

Fry says after leaving the show, he went on to pursue number 118 on his list, which was to invent and market successful products worldwide. The idea developed into a fortune cookie company, Fancy Fortune Cookies, located in Indianapolis.

"Our company took the fortune cookie business to another level," states Fry. "I wanted to create something that would offer more customizable options, including the messages in the cookies."

According to www.fancyfortunecookies.com, the company offers fortune cookies in 23 different flavors, including fruit flavors cherry, lemon, orange and strawberry; exotic fla-vors mint, coconut, cappuccino and fruit punch; and traditional flavors, vanilla, chocolate and gourmet chocolate.

"Our cookies can be used in every imaginable occasion, weddings, corporate events, an-niversaries, as promotional items or other special occasions," adds Fry.

His clientele list includes celebrities Mr. Rogers, Jackie Chan, Conan O'Brien, Donald Trump, Joan Rivers and Oprah Winfrey.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of his fortune cookie company, and Fry says he wanted to do something special as a way to thank those that have been a blessing to him over the years.

"My wife came across a blog, written by an Australian lady who wrote about her memories of the Happy show," Fry states. "She decided to create a Facebook page, just to see if we could connect with former fans."

Fry says he expected to have a few hundred fans at the most. However, within months, the number grew to over 6,000.

"I was shocked that there so many people who had been fans and still remembered," he says. "It was really surprising and cool at the same time."

He adds that while brainstorming at Starbucks, he came up with an idea to mark the com-pany's anniversary.

"In light of the Facebook page being so popular, I decided to use it as a tool to carry out the 100 Wishes in 100 Days campaign," Fry states. "It was a way that I could give back to all my fans."

Fry says the campaign encourages fans to nominate a person, persons, causes or events who have made a positive difference in their lives, organizations or communities.

Fans can post their nominations on the FancyFortuneCookies or Happy's Place Facebook page wall.

"We like it to be something that pays it forward, to someone or something that is deserving, states Fry. "We review the posts every day and choose one."

The recipient is then sent a package with a fortune cookie congratulating them on being selected and gives the person or organization information on why they were chosen and by whom.

"We started about two weeks ago and the response has been great," Fry says. "The nomi-nations also have been all over the board, all deserving and sometimes hard to choose."

Previous winning nominations include a woman who wanted to thank her OBGYN and medical staff who had been supportive of her through 11 miscarriages. She recently conceived.

Another winner was a gentleman who was experiencing car problems and was without his vehicle for three weeks, with no means or know- how to fix it. A neighbor, who was a stranger at the time, came over one night and fixed the problem at no charge, even using a part from his own garage.

"We've also had a lady who wanted to thank her oncologist for helping her throughout her bout with stage four cancer; another who nominated a friend who makes plus-sized clothes for women; an organization that provides warm clothing and toys for underprivi-leged youth during the holiday season and a volunteer from the Ronald McDonald's House," adds Fry. "The nominations cover a wide spectrum."

Fry says with over 70 days left in the project, he expects to receive many more nominations.

"As the word gets out to more fans, I'm sure we'll be getting a lot more posts for nominations," he states.

Fry adds that after the close of the project, he will be embarking on another one, which he started working on three years ago.

"I got the opportunity to meet John Grogan, who had inspired me so long ago to chase my dreams," he states. "We have since become good friends and we are working on goal achievement course, which is a system designed to assist goal-setters."

Fry says he has a passion for teaching as well as goal-setting and would like to combine the two with this next endeavor.

"I've had the opportunity to teach and train goal-setters in the United States and Asia over the last three years and it has been exciting," he says.

Currently, on his original list of 167 things he would like to accomplish, Fry has completed 97, with approximately 20 others halfway done.

"I'm just glad for the response we have gotten and the chance to be able to do something for the fans who have stayed connected with us," he adds.

Happy the Hobo can be found on his Facebook page at www.facebook. com/happythehobo and entries to the 100 Wishes in 100 Days fortune cookie giveawy can be submitted to the FancyFortuneCookies Facebook page at www.facebook.comfancyfortunecookies.