Natural Foods Merchandiser

Paul Newman, a tough act to follow

Paul Newman, a tough act to follow

Think of Paul Newman, and Butch Cassidy and Cool Hand Luke probably come to mind. But there's a good chance salad dressing and pasta sauce aren't far behind. During the past 26 years, Newman became known not just for his big presence on the big screen, but also for his natural and organic food businesses that have donated 100 percent of their proceeds to charity.

It all began in 1982, when Newman poured his signature vinaigrette into empty wine bottles and presented them as gifts to neighbors, who quickly clamored for more. Newman figured he had the potential for a product line. Soon, 30,000 cases of Newman's Own natural salad dressing flew off grocery shelves, and Newman received a check for $890,000. "It took him about two seconds to decide to give away the money," says his daughter, Nell, who founded Newman's Own Organics in 1993. "I kept telling him to put on the bottle that he gave the proceeds away, but it took someone else telling him to do so, and he finally put it on in the smallest letters you couldn't even read. He didn't talk about it much, but rather showed through example."

Since then, Newman and the Newman's Own Foundation have donated more than $250 million to charity. Of all these philanthropic endeavors, Newman was proudest of his Hole in the Wall camps that have given more than 600 children with serious medical conditions an opportunity to enjoy a summer camp experience.

The actor's entrance onto the food stage also did a lot to promote profit sharing and natural and organic, says Maryellen Molyneaux, president and managing partner for the Natural Marketing Institute in Harleysville, Penn. "All natural, it tasted good, it gave to charity, and oh, Paul Newman made it—the combination was before its time and it stood out," she says. "We can generally say [Newman's] increased penetration of organic and natural products, and we're just looking forward to more from Nell."

Paul Newman died in September at the age of 83.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 12/p. 8

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