In the Beginning…
It started as a bit of a lark. In 1980, Paul Newman and his pal A.E. Hotchner filled empty wine bottles with his homemade salad dressing to give as gifts for the holidays. After friends and neighbors came clamoring for refills, Paul and “Hotch” were convinced that the special recipe was good enough to be bottled and sold.
Newman’s Own Salad Dressing was officially launched in 1982 and, surprisingly, became an instant success. The first year of profits exceeded $300,000 and Paul declared, “Let’s give it all away to those who need it.” Without ever taking personal compensation, Paul shared his good fortune. It was a unique concept at the time giving away all after-tax profits but he believed that helping others was just the right thing to do.
Growth of a Social Enterprise
In 1983, Newman’s Own Pasta Sauce was introduced, followed in later years by Lemonade, Microwave Popcorn, and Salsa. Paul went against conventional wisdom by creating all-natural food products from his own recipes and insisting that quality always trumps the bottom line. The magic formula was a recipe for success, and the profits kept flowing into charitable organizations. By 1992, a decade after the first product sold, over $50 million had been given away.
Who knew that a bottle of salad dressing could, in turn, change the lives of people around the world. That’s mighty potent (and tasty!) stuff.
In 2008 and 2011, respectively, Newman’s Own introduced frozen pizza and frozen skillet meals. There are now over 100 product varieties sold throughout the U.S. and abroad, leading to an increase in the level of charitable contributions from profits and royalties.
Continuing Paul’s Legacy
In 2005, Paul established Newman’s Own Foundation to ensure that the company’s philanthropic outreach would continue. The Newman’s Own business model has remained the same over the years. The enterprise remains true to Paul’s original mission and values, using only high-quality foods and donating 100% of profits and royalties to charity. To date, over $550 million has been contributed to nonprofit organizations worldwide.
Who would’ve thought that so much good could come from a simple idea? As Paul said, it has been “a heck of a ride.”