Ode To Paul Newman and His Food Philanthropy

By Catharine L. Kaufman—a.k.a. The Kitchen Shrink

Of his multiple and much celebrated metamorphoses, from stage actor to Hollywood icon, racecar driver and philanthropist, it is the last one that best defines the empathetic heart and aspiring spirit of the man. Recipient of the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1984), Paul Newman left a legacy of such lasting good works as the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps he founded to bring medical care and healing summer fun for seriously ill children—with new ones opening throughout the U.S. and abroad—and Newman’s Own food company, which donates its net profits to that and other educational and charitable organizations. (By the way, you may recognize the Hole in the Wall Gang name from the Newman-Redford motion picture, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”)

Started up initially as a joke meant to answer the growing demand by Paul’s friends and neighbors for his homemade salad dressings, Newman’s Own partnered the movie legend with writer A.E. Hotchner and daughter Nell Newman in what soon became a huge commercial success.

The original Olive Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing that launched the enterprise in 1982, was soon joined on grocery shelves by Creamy Caesar, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Italian and Ranch dressings, seven varieties of pasta sauce, steak sauce, three strengths of Bandito Salsa, Old Fashioned Lemonade and Picture Show Popcorn.

Paul Newman, right, president and founder of Newman’s Own, Inc., and Henry Gonzalez, McDonald’s East Division president, mixed salads at the McDonald’s Times Square restaurant in New York

Eventually, Nell convinced her Dad to go organic with Newman’s Own Organics: The Second Generation brand. These “great products that just happen to be organic” include seven-grain pretzels, chocolate bars, fat-free Fig Newmans, Champion Chip Cookies, Newman-O’s, Pop’s Corn, Dried Fruit, Soy Crisps, Olive Oil and Balsamic Dressing, Mints, Coffee, Royal Tea and organic pet foods.

Today, the smiling faces of Nell and “Pa” Newman can be seen in supermarkets throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Japan and Australia, on packages of organic products that have become staples for health-conscious consumers.

Paul’s impish humor is evident in the irreverent promotional copy on some of Newman’s Own labels. The ‘Virgin Lemonade,’ for example, is qualified as ‘Made from lemons that have never been squeezed.’

In 1998, two Newman’s Own cookbooks were published – “The Hole in the Wall Gang Cookbook: Kid-Friendly Recipes for Families to Make Together,” and “Newman’s Own Cookbook,” containing recipes using the brand’s products, as well as celebrity contributions from his friends Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman and Julia Roberts. The books sold well and their proceeds were donated to the Hole in the Wall Gang Fund. The following year, Newman’s enterprises netted $100 million in charitable contributions, which today exceed $250 million. This largesse benefits more than 2,000 organizations worldwide.
As is the case with long relationships, Paul Newman’s and Joanne Woodward’s 50-year marriage has blurred somewhat the boundaries of mutual influences in both their remarkable artistic and altruistic accomplishments. But of the extraordinary quality of their partnership there is no doubt. They shared films as actors and as actors and director; fought for causes of great consequence with passion and intelligence, and put into motion what appear to be unstoppable forces for good. Our heartfelt sympathy is with their family—our only consoling thought, that Joanne, Nell and maybe others in the Newman clan, will continue the journey.

As champions of good nutrition, we at < www.FreeRangeClub.blogspot.com salute Newman’s Own Organics and celebrate the Founder’s legacy with our own ‘The Color of Money’ Spinach Salad, dressed for the occasion with Newman’s Own, warm Olive Oil and Balsamic ambrosia.

“The Color of Money” Spinach Salad
(Use organic ingredients when available)

1 package (7 ounces) of fresh baby spinach
3 ounces of pignolia (pine nuts) or slivered almonds
1/3 cup of “Newman’s Own” Olive Oil and Balsamic Dressing
1 small red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

In a small saucepan, heat the dressing, sugar and mustard. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Pour the warm dressing over the spinach leaves. Toss well and sprinkle with the nuts. Enjoy immediately.

(If you want to chew the fat or beef about a culinary disaster, email me at [email protected] for some heart-2-heart)

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