Paul Newman, R.I.P.

Articles
September 30, 2008

Paul Newman, R.I.P.

The food world lost a one-of-a-kind food visionary this week. Paul Newman, who in 1982, along with author A.E. Hotchner, started Newman's Own with a single product, Italian salad dressing, died this past week. Newman changed the food world in many ways. He did not follow the tried and true path...

The food world lost a one-of-a-kind food visionary this week. Paul Newman, who in 1982, along with author A.E. Hotchner, started Newman's Own with a single product, Italian salad dressing, died this past week.

Newman changed the food world in many ways.

He did not follow the tried and true path and for decades refused to advertise or offer allowances or promotions. He was as proud of his food products as he was of the profits it was able to generate to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps as well as other charities. I first met Newman at the insistence of Hotchner, we met in Newman's apartment and chatted in between Paul opening up bottles of dressings from the latest production runs. He would unscrew the cap, take a swig right from the bottle. That was his personal quality control – it was all about the taste.

He shared with me that just the week prior, he was stopped for speeding on the highway between Manhattan and his home in Connecticut. When the police officer approached his car, Newman saw a smile on the officer's face, and he thought that his situation would easily be resolved and he would be on his way. The officer, of course, recognized Newman, and greeted him with the fawning reserved just for A-list celebrities. Newman, now convinced he was going to avoid yet another speeding ticket, asked the officer which of his movies he enjoyed. The officer looked confused and then told Paul that he was sorry, he had confused him with "the guy who makes the popcorn and dressings".

Newman understood his power, on the silver screen and in the food aisles.

While most think of Newman and Redford as a winning team ... the team of Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner brought great products, a put-your-money-where–your-mouth-is concern for other people and a new approach to branded foods. Many celebs have tried. Sinatra could not sell spaghetti sauce, nor could Bing Crosby sell ice cream. It is not just about the name – it is about the man.