Radio exec turned no nonsense entrepreneur exchanged her suffocating panty hose for a hair net and a batch of her mother’s buttery cheese straws ~ and hasn’t looked back since.
Cathy Cunningham recalls the very moment in 1994 she decided to upend her life. Successful but unfulfilled, Cunningham worked in the radio business in Atlanta. One night she was having a glass of wine to unwind, snacking on some expensive cheese bites that were not nearly as good as her own mother’s when she thought to herself, “My mama’s cheese straws are better than these. You know what? I think I could make a business out of selling Mama’s recipe.”
“Cathy’s “mama” is the late Geraldine Cunningham, a former teacher from Newnan, Georgia and a genuine Southern treasure. Geraldine learned the skills of baking from her Swedish mom, Emma Lindgren McCloskey.
Geraldine and her husband, Turner Homes Cunningham, had four children. Cathy is their only daughter. Geraldine found that to keep the family fed; baking had to become a focal point of the home. She would spend hours upon hours churning out delicious, buttery cheese straws that were a hit with the kids and all the Newman townspeople. The Cunningham kids always seemed to be causing mischief and the cheese straws became a peace offering for whatever their latest transgression may have been! When Cathy had her epiphany that corporate America was not going to jive long term with her free spirited personality, she resolved to name her venture “The Bodacious Food Company.” After all, to Cathy, ‘bodacious’ means, "As good as it gets!"
Mama Geraldine’s Cheese Straws now come in six varieties (including gluten free) and they are “the best selling cheese straw in all of these United States” (as Cathy says in her Southern drawl). The Bodacious Food Company has expanded to include a line of cookies (Italian Wedding, Pecan Cini-Minis, Key Lime) as well.
The rest is history. Mama Geraldine's Cheese Straws and Bodacious Snacks are distributed worldwide. Cathy made it her mission in life to spread the “joy” of cheese straws throughout the land. “Let me tell you what, there are very few things in life better than a freshly baked cheese straw,” says Cunningham. “And for me, well I haven’t had to put on a par of panty hose in 26 years.” How is that for living a bodacious life? “Snack on, y’all!”