Opportunity came knocking for Cindy Kienzle 16 years ago — heavily disguised. She was laid off from the job she’d had for ten years, and which she loved: head of marketing and customer communication for the Chicago Transit Authority. At the same time, at age 48, she learned she was pregnant. Three years later, with a toddler in tow — daughter Lily, who is the namesake for Hungry Monkey — Cindy began the journey toward her longtime dream of owning a bakery. In the audio clip below, she tells WGN’s Steve Alexander how she went from laid-off mom to a baker needing 10,000 pounds of bananas to fill an order from Jewel. Cindy says her banana breads had long been famous among friends and turned out to be a big seller at farmers’ markets. Then, Sunset Foods began selling her banana bread at its Chicago-area locations. But the biggest news of all came in October: Hungry Monkey Banana Bread, original plain, and signature chocolate chip, are being sold at 188 Jewel-Osco locations.
At age 48, Cindy Kienzle lost her job and discovered she was pregnant. So, she leaned into what she loved and what she was told she was good at: baking. Sixteen years later, her famous Chocolate Chip Banana Bread is now being sold at Jewel stores.