We started in 1993 with a simple idea: that people could help each other by sharing stories about their lives. For years people had told our founders, motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, inspiring stories about themselves. Jack and Mark included these stories in their talks, and their audiences repeatedly asked if they had ever been published. “That story about the boy and the puppy—is that in a book anywhere?” a parent asked Jack. “That story about the boy with the amputated leg who became a tennis star, I need to read that to my staff,” a manager told him. Jack was asked repeatedly, “Is that story in a book anywhere?” Eventually, Jack and Mark decided their audiences must be on to something, so they compiled the best 101 stories they’d been told in a book. They called it Chicken Soup for the Soul because they wanted it to soothe and provide comfort, just like their grandmothers’ cooking.
They took the book to New York, hoping to sell it to one of the big publishers, but every single one turned them down. The project appeared to have stalled until they met Peter Vesgo, the editor of a small, health and wellness publisher in Florida named HCI. Peter read some of the stories and loved them, so he decided to give the book a chance, becoming Chicken Soup for the Soul’s founding publisher.
Never, in Jack and Mark’s wildest dreams, had they imagined what the book would become. Chicken Soup for the Soul turned into one of the most popular and loved books ever published, selling 11 million copies around the world. Readers asked for more stories so we published a “second helping” of Chicken Soup for the Soul and a third after that. Today, we’ve published more than 250 books, which have become the best-selling trade paperback book series of all time.
People have connected with Chicken Soup for the Soul books profoundly. We get letters and e-mails almost every day telling us how a Chicken Soup for the Soul story or book has changed someone’s life. Years ago, we also started getting letters from readers asking for more, not just more books, but other things, too. They asked why we didn’t make food, a natural question given that we’ve always meant for our books to soothe and nurture just like wholesome, comfort foods. And they asked if there would ever be a Chicken Soup for the Soul TV show, another good idea since our goal has always been to share happiness, inspiration and wellness with as many people as we can.
Jack and Mark recognized that Chicken Soup for the Soul had grown into something much bigger than the book series they had created. So, in 2008, William (Bill) Rouhana, Amy Newmark and Robert Jacobs bought Chicken Soup for the Soul from them. Today, Bill and Amy, a husband-and-wife team, along with everyone else at Chicken Soup for the Soul, are responding to readers’ requests and expanding beyond the bookstore. We now have a line of comfort foods, inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul stories about food and feelings. We make wholesome and balanced pet foods because we know how special the relationship is between people and their pets. We’re online now with our forums, apps, and a Chicken Soup for the Soul YouTube channel. We’re working hard on a new Chicken Soup for the Soul TV show and a major motion picture. Meanwhile, Amy, publisher and co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and her team of editors are collecting stories from our readers and the public, just like we’ve done since the beginning. We have new books coming out almost every month. From our books, to our food for people and their pets, to the new TV show, we’re always looking for ways to share happiness, inspiration and wellness through everything we do.