In 1982, Paul Newman started a company with his friend A.E. Hotchner. Newman was famous for starring in movies like The Sting and Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, but this new venture had nothing to do with acting. His mission was simple: attain salad dressing. Little did he know that their fledgling company would go on to have a major impact on millions of peoples lives . This is the story of a human. A man who had a vision, and who didnt stop until that vision became a reality. This is the official oral history of Newmans Own Salad Dressing .
Chapter 1: How It All Got Started
Robert Redford( co-star, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid ): On the last day of filming for Butch Cassidy , Paul and I talked about things we wanted to accomplish outside of our acting careers. I told him about my notion for the Sundance Film Festival, how it would showcase independent filmmakers from all over the country and provide a launching pad into the film industry for young American artists. Paul told me that he wanted to drown the world in balsamic.
A.E. Hotchner( co-founder, Newmans Own ): Paul and I had been friends for a long time, so I was well aware of his preoccupation with salad dressing. He used to call me at four in the morning sometimes and just start naming all the different kinds. Italian. Sesame Ginger. Lite Italian. He knew them all. Joanne Woodward( actress; Newmans wife ): Paul had no interest in salad. For him, it was always about the dressing. He called it his wetness, and he drank it constantly.
Robert Redford : That last shot of Butch Cassidy , the famous freeze-frame when theyre about to be killed by the Bolivian army? It wasnt supposed to be a freeze-frame. Truth is, it had to be a freeze-frame, because a second subsequently, Paul took out a mason jar filled with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, chugged the whole thing, and shrieked, Now THATS my kind of wetness! He did it on every take.
Bill Gates( co-founder, Microsoft ): I like all kinds of salads. Caesar salad. Cobb salad. Greek salad. Salad is great, and I order it often when I go to restaurants.
A.E. Hotchner : The homemade salad dressing started as a holiday tradition. Every Christmas, Paul would make a bunch of salad dressing, pour it into wine bottles, and drive around the neighborhood hurling them through peoples windows with a note that said Hi, its Paul from acting. Please drink my wetness. I dont think it will annihilate your bones.
Robert Redford : He was right. Nobodys bones were annihilated. And people liked the dressing.
Joanne Woodward : He always devoted the dressing away for free during those early days. Thats the way it was with Paul. He devoted everything away. One day, he tried to donate every single one of my fingers to UNICEF. He was altogether unmaterialistic.
Sam Mendes( director, Road To Perdition ): Sometime around the middle of shooting Road To Perdition , I came home to find that Paul had given away everything in my house. He had given away my television. My furniture. My Oscar. Paul Newman had given away my spouse and children and all the pictures of them that had been on the walls. He had given away everything except the house itself, which was completely empty. There was nothing left. Nothing at all. He was the most generous man I ever knew.
Joanne Woodward : Pauls interest in philanthropy is truly what drove him to start the company with Aaron. The notion that he could use the salad dressing to fund the many charities he dreamed of starting, the majority of members of which involved giving sick children even sicker geckos so they wouldnt feel so bad about being sick.
A.E. Hotchner : Paul calls me at four in the morning one day and says, Hello, my extremely unfamous friend! Its Paul from acting. I want to sell my wetness to strangers so I can use the profits to stimulate charities for good causes like devoting sick kids fucked-up geckos and letting homeless people sit on a trampoline for simply one minute, so are you with me or what? The next day, we got to work on the first batch of Newmans Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Chapter 2: Production
It was official. Newmans Own would begin to make and sell salad dressing, with all earnings going to different charities. But neither Newman nor Hotchner had much business experience, and they discovered themselves having to learn a lot on the fly. How precisely does one start a salad dressing company? They would have to find out .
A.E. Hotchner : It took us eternally to attain that first batch, because every time we finished stimulating it, Paul would savour it to make sure it was right and unavoidably love it so much that hed drink it all, and marriage have to start over again.
Joanne Woodward : That famous slogan, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Newmans: It Tastes Wet, is what Paul would wail whenever he savoured a new batch.
Robert Redford : He was extremely proud of how wet it savoured and sent me countless unprompted faxes about it that all said Hi, its Paul from acting, and I couldnt be prouder of the wet taste.
Joanne Woodward : Once they had attained the actual dres, there were some issues with the prototypes for the bottles.
A.E. Hotchner : Originally, Paul wanted the bottles to be life-size plastic molds of his body, which you would sort of reach around the waist and perform the Heimlich maneuver on in order to get garmenting to spray out of his mouth and eyes.
Robert Redford : These were 6-foot-tall, translucent statues of Pauls nude body, and they each weighed about 200 pounds because they were filled with 15 gallons of balsamic vinaigrette.
A.E. Hotchner : Some people in the focus group had a hard time figuring out the mechanism for expelling the dres, so Paul installed a soundbox on each bottle that would scream IM CHOKING! IM CHOKING! in order to encourage people to perform the Heimlich maneuver on the bottle, which was the only style to get the dressing out. It didnt work.
Bill Gates : Another kind of salad is Chinese chicken salad.
A.E. Hotchner : So, we decided to stick with a traditionally bred bottle and simply set a picture of Paul on the label. He was adamant about that.
Robert Redford : Paul once explained it to me like this in an unprompted fax: Hi, Robert from acting. Its me, Paul from acting as well. The reason for my face on the bottles is so that all the extremely unfamous strangers know that the wetness is mine. So theyll look at the bottles and insure my face and think, Of course, the wetness belongs to none other than Paul from acting. This is the one thing that is certain in this world.
A.E. Hotchne r: We shipped the first bottles of Newmans Own Balsamic Vinaigrette to stores across the country and waited for the sale figures. We had no notion what to expect.
Chapter 3: Disruptors
With the bottles of Newmans Own packaged and shipped to vendors, the fate of the company hung in the balance. But Newman and Hotchner werent the only ones wondering how their salad dressing would sell. Challengers in the food industry awaited to insure what the world would induce of this new enterprise from Paul Newman .
Benno Dorer ( CEO, Clorox, which owns Hidden Valley Ranch ): Nobody at Hidden Valley deemed him a serious threat. Wed only locked down sponsorship deals with every remaining survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and President Reagan had employed a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing to kill a spider on national television. We were absolutely dominating the industry.
David H. Murdock ( CEO, Dole Food Company ): Benno underestimated Paul. Everyone did. Paul was from acting , not from salad dressing. It just didnt make any sense that he would succeed.
Benno Dorer : They could only afford one commercial. It aired twice during a two-hour block of woodland fire footage and consisted altogether of Paul Newman lapping at a puddle of balsamic vinaigrette while a number flashed on the screen. I called the number simply to try it out, and it took me to a recorded message of Paul Newman saying Hi, its Paul from acting, and I think it savors wet. Thank you very much. I didnt feel like we had anything to worry about.
Edward F. Lonergan ( CEO, Chiquita Brands International ): Benno and the rest of those Hidden Valley Ranch guys thought they were untouchable because a food critic from the Times had just hailed their ranch dressing as both slippery and nonflammable. And then Paul astonished them all.
A.E. Hotchne r: Every single store sold out of our dressing in two hours. Vons, Albertsons, Jeffreys Food Museumsuddenly, all the national grocery chains were calling us demanding more Newmans Own.
Benno Dorer : I go into work that day and theres a nude balsamic-filled statue of Paul Newman on my desk calling about how hes choking. I asked my secretary who it was from. A gift, she said, from Paul Newman.
Joanne Woodward : Paul was very happy when he hear how well the dressing was selling. But he didnt understand why people were pouring it all over their salad. He said to me, Hi, Joanne from acting and also wedding, its Paul from acting and also marriage as well. I dont understand why theyre putting my wetness on the plants. The wetness is a kind of liquor that savours so wet and probably doesnt annihilate your skeleton, so it is a mystery to me why they pour it on the plants.
A.E. Hotchner : At the end of the working day, as long as the dressing created fund for charity, Paul didnt care what people did with it. And it did. It raised a lot of money for charity.
Joanne Woodward : On the first day alone, we raised enough money to donate over 15,000 terminally ill geckos to youngsters hospitals across the country. I ran with Paul when he delivered some of them. To watch the style those kids faces would light up when Paul handed them a mangled gecko that was clearly closer to death than they wereit was very special.
Bill Gates : If you cant finish your entire salad and want to save some for afterward, make sure to put it in the fridge.
Edward F. Lonergan : How do you compete with a company that is giving all of their money away to charity? The answer is, you dont. Benno knew that. Hidden Valley was fucked.
Benno Dorer : The moment Paul Newman turned to Tom Cruise in the climactic scene of The Color Of Money and announced that Newmans Own are now beginning constructing ranch dressing, I knew our time as the bad-boy lust lords of the salad dressing industry was over. Goodbye, free access to the secret bathroom at the upper part of the Washington Monument. So long, permission to bang on the glass of the jellyfish tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We had been dethroned.
Chapter 4: Crossroads
Following the record sales of the first batch of Newmans Own, the company that had started in Pauls basement in Connecticut was now fabricating massive sums of salad dressing in several factories throughout the country. As the business grew, so did Newmans network of life-changing charities. But success came at a cost .
Robert Redford : Paul was accomplishing everything he had set out to achieve. He had established a charity that helped sick children penetrated into R-rated movies. He had created a lite ranch dressing, something science had once believed impossible. But at some phase, it became clear that Pauls focus on salad dressing was affecting his acting.
Joel Coen( novelist/ director, The Hudsucker Proxy ): Watch Hudsucker Proxy again, and youll notice that you never insure both of Pauls arms in the same shooting. Thats because he was always stirring a vat of dressing just out of frame. Ethan Coen( novelist/ director , The Hudsucker Proxy ): When we offered Paul the component, we thought we were getting the Paul Newman from Butch Cassidy and The Coloring Of Money . We didnt realise “were in” get Paul Newman the salad dressing guzzler who would insist on renaming his character Marvin, the Balsamic Genius 15 days into principal photography.
Joanne Woodward : Paul did hours and hours of character work for Hudsucker , painstakingly developing the character of Marvin, the Balsamic Genius, who knows about vinegar in a world where nobody else knows about vinegar. It just wasnt the same vision that Joel and Ethan had for the role.
Bill Gates : Breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. Salad is great for any snack.
Robert Redford : I started hearing tales about how Paul would try to tinker with scripts in order to stimulate them about a character who drinks so much salad dressing that God kills himself out of jealousy. It fretted me.
Tom Cruise( co-star, The Coloring Of Money ): Paul once told me that it was unrealistic for my character to feeling sadness, because salad dressing existed and therefore happiness was a much more probable emotional state.
A.E. Hotchner : Paul was get a reputation as being difficult to work with, but the truth is that the guy was merely overextended. One day, hed be acting on situate; the next, hed be passing out semi-decapitated geckos at St. Judes, or soaking in a vat of creamy Caesar at one of our factories until he passed out from sodium poisoning.
Joanne Woodward : Pauls agent would call and offer him the lead in something or other, and Paul would always say the same thing: Hi, its Paul from acting. Unless there is a scene where the character is given the Nobel Peace Prize for murdering the man who drink the last bottle of Greek vinaigrette, then Im not interested.
A.E. Hotchner : I guess Paul wanted to wind down his acting career so that he could focus on running Newmans Own, starting more charities, and constructing The Ranch Canal, a nonfunctional canal that would stretch across the entire United States and is thoroughly filled with ranch dressing. You have to respect that, even if youre a fan of his acting, and even if The Ranch Canal ended up being both enormously illegal and environmentally catastrophic.
Chapter 5: An Enduring Legacy
In 2008, Paul Newman passed away, and the world mourned his loss. But even in his absence, Newmans Own has lived on, continuing the run Newman and Hotchner began when they started the company more than 30 years ago. Since then, theyve induced countless servings of salad dressing and created millions of dollars for charities, all because one human had the vision and the fortitude to bring his dream to life .
A.E. Hotchner : Of all the Newmans Own products, salad dressing was always Pauls favorite. It was his wetness, and he liked how it savoured wet. It started it all. But even though Paul thought Newman-Os were big glitches that wanted to steal his plans for a balsamic ear, Im sure hed be happy today to see how many kids our company has been able to help by selling them, as well as all the other Newmans Own products.
Joanne Woodward : Its crazy to think that the money created from selling salad dressing was able to provide wetsuits for so many homeless person, and 400 eels for one sick child, and a bunch of prosciutto for some old people one time in a parking lot. How inspiring.
Robert Redford : Its hard to say what I admire about Paul more. Is it the fact that he exhibited a quasi-supernatural they are able to consume copious quantities of salad dressing with seemingly no harm to his well-being? Or that his last words to me were from an unprompted fax that said Hi, Robert from acting. Its Paul from acting as well. A beautiful thing to imagine is a birdbath filled with balsamic and also Im sitting in it fighting away birds with a rake because I want the wetness for myself. Okay, so long now. I simply dont know.
Joanne Woodward : I still have about a hundred of those old nude prototype bottles in my basement, and every now and then, something will define them off and theyll all start screaming that theyre choking in the middle of the night. Id throw them out, but its nice to hear his voice again. He actually was a great man.
Bill Gates : And who doesnt love croutons?
A.E. Hotchner : Im incredibly proud of the company that Paul and I started. But most of all, after all these years, the thing Im most proud of is that no ones skeleton has ever popped like a balloon inside of their body from eating Newmans Own salad dressing, because that would be awful.
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