How Martha Stewart Helped With The Rise Of Newman's Own

Martha Stewart may have given rise to domestic creativity, but wasn't always a legend in cooking and crafting. After earning her degree in European and architectural history from Barnard College, she worked as a stockbroker until 1972, when she moved to Connecticut and embarked on a career in catering. One of her early clients (and neighbors) was none other than Paul Newman. And, as Fox News revealed, she (actually her dog) almost ruined an event that she catered for the Newmans back in the day. Given that she was instrumental in the launch of Newman's salad dressing, the faux pas was likely forgiven.

The story behind the creation of Newman's Own is well-chronicled. What began as a Christmas gift endeavor in an old bathtub has morphed into a food line that is the stuff of culinary and philanthropic legend. As Newman and his buddy, A. E. Hotchner, were trying to get the all-natural dressing bottled and sold, they encountered some interesting challenges. They were told by marketing experts that, before they could give the venture legs, they would need to have the product tested to the tune of $400,000 (via The New York Times). Newman, ever the pragmatic, balked at the idea. That's where Stewart comes in.

Some friends in Martha's kitchen

Instead of investing in the suggested market research, Newman asked Stewart to arrange a taste-testing of his dressing. They assembled 20 friends and neighbors in her kitchen, and, by Newman's own account of the tasting, they subjected the dressing to an excruciatingly thorough review process that involved rating his product different salad dressings, many of which were popular, successful brands (via Time). Unbeknownst to these guinea pigs, the fate of the Newman's Own brand likely lay in the decision of their discriminating palates.

When the reviews came in, the product was a go. The testers were asked to rank the different dressings they tasted, and only two of the testers rated the product second, all of the others ranked it first. The self-proclaimed Salad King of New England was off to the races. Newman's lawyer incorporated the brand the following day. The rest is, of course, history. What started as a Christmas whim, had its fate sealed in the kitchen of the then-unknown Stewart, is now a food brand with over 100 different products (Newman's Own Foundation).

To date, Newman's Own, which has always donated its profits entirely to charity, has raised more than $570 million, benefiting numerous philanthropic causes. This little tasting experience held in her kitchen in the early 1980s is just one of the many, many contributions to the greater good that Stewart has bestowed on the world. Thanks again, Martha.