Paul Newman died this month in 2008 at the age of 83. But his legacy of movies, sports car racing, salad dressing and philanthropy lingers on. While in college, but before attending Yale’s drama school, Newman owned a Laundromat for a year and enticed his student customers to bring in their dirty clothes by offering them free beer. Princeton University honors his “24 in 24”, encouraging the “sporting” to down 24 beers in 24 hours, all in the name of a movie-star hero who proclaimed to enjoy “a good brew” up to his dying day.
For sure, Paul Newman was bigger than life and made a decision from early on to live his life exactly as he wanted to. He put in time helping with the family sports store business, but eventually left to join the Navy to see the world and to learn to fly. Short lived was that experience, when it was discovered he was color blind. (Imagine, the man swooned by women the world over because of his baby blues, couldn’t tell red from grey!) Later he would take up auto racing with a vengeance, racing mainly Datsuns (rebranded Nissans) in the Trans-Am Series, with well-publicized success. He became the oldest driver to be part of a winning team in a sanctioned race in Daytona at the age of 70, and continued to engage in the sport until the year before his death.
Newman once said his experience as a young man in a combat arena shaped his philosophy of “luck.” “The benevolence of it in my life, and the brutality of it in the lives of others…it just motivated me to do something about the imbalance. I got into the food business (with writer and friend A.E. Hotchner) for fun, but the business got a mind of its own. In racing, you can be certain to the last thousandth of a second that someone is the best. But in film as with a recipe, there is no way of knowing how all the ingredients will work out in the end.”
We know today, his “cooking” in the form of the Newman’s Own Foundation has funded thousands of causes around the world, more than $350 million of net-after-profits royalties mostly from salad dressing (McDonalds packet salad dressings are made by Newman’s Own), cookies and spaghetti sauce. Three years before his death he set up the foundation to ensure his personal commitment to the world would continue, and so it has. As of 2012, the Foundation has supported causes in all 50 states and 31 countries around the world.
Today, Newman’s Own Foundation has trimmed down charitable funding to reflect four “high impact areas:”
- Organizations that promote the practice of philanthropy and/or rely on philanthropic support to fulfill their missions.
- Organizations that enhance the quality of life for children with life-limiting medical conditions, and for whom the experience of childhood has been disrupted by circumstances beyond their control.
- Organizations that empower people to overcome extraordinary adverse circumstances, and/or provide equal access to human rights and contribute to the development of a civil society.
- Organizations that implement model solutions to issues of hunger and nutrition for underserved communities.
At GreenAcres, we carry Newman’s Own products, but there is another line, Newman’s Own Organic which is not as well known but actually contributes to Newman’s Own Foundation through name licensing fees. It is owned by Paul Newman’s daughter, Nell.
Newman’s Own Organic focuses on products Nell loved as a kid: organic pretzels, chocolate bars and fat-free fig cookies. Thanks to the cooperation of Kraft Foods, Fig Newman’s was the first in the division’s cookie line made completely with organic flour, organic figs and without hydrogenated oils.
You’ll notice in our doggie department, we carry a variety of dog-friendly organic foods which contain natural chicken, raised without growth hormones or antibiotics, fed only an all natural, all vegetable diet; a highly-palatable essential fatty acid: chicken fat; organic soy, brown rice, barley, flax seed, oats, carrots and peas. The elements that go into Newman’s Own Organic dog food make man’s best friend more fully nourished than half the children in third world countries—thus the importance of individual foundations like Newman’s Own.
The next generation continues to build on a food philosophy bringing a present-day dynamic to the table that even a movie star—but especially a proud dad—would approve.