How Newman's Own Started As A Joke In A Barn

It's hard to believe a company that has made over $200 million may have started as a joke, or that it was founded by someone who acted in more than 65 movies and had an impressive race car driving career (via The New York Times). Then again, it sounds unlikely that the same company would donate all of its profits to charity. A lot of people have probably learned to quit putting limits on what they believe Paul Newman could accomplish long before his face was popping up on Newman's Own salad dressings at local grocery store shelves.

Newman, known for his dazzling blue eyes and acting roles in classic movies like "The Hustler" and "Cool Hand Luke" (via IMDb), obviously had various interests. According to Mental Floss, one of those passions showed its face near Christmastime in 1980 when Newman was putting together holiday gifts. Apparently, the actor didn't have all the tools he needed so he had to mix things up a little and create his own salad dressing.

An interesting technique for the first batch of dressing

Today, in addition to salad dressings, the Newman's Own product line includes a range of food items like lemonade, popcorn, and spaghetti sauce (via Newman's Own). However, this product started when Newman was trying to make some salad dressing as a gift for his neighbors. According to Mental Floss, Newman was in the middle of solving a particular challenge when he invited his neighbor, author, and editor A.E. Hotchner over to help him out. As the story goes, when Hotchner arrived, Newman had a bucket of olive oil, vinegar, and condiments in the barn, along with some empty wine bottles. Unfortunately, the future businessman was missing one key tool.

Newman didn't have anything to stir the soon-to-be salad dressing with, so things got interesting. Hotchner told The New York Times the actor went to the "river outside the barn and got his canoe paddle," which he proceeded to use to stir the dressing and achieve not-exactly disastrous results. Not only did none of the neighbors die from the canoe paddle-mixed dressing, but the duo officially launched Newman's Own just two years later (via Newman's Own Foundation). As an assumption, we believe the canoe paddle mixing method was long gone by that time.