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Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good: The Madcap Business Adventure by the Truly Oddest Couple Hardcover – November 4, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
One of the most unusual philanthropic enterprises of the 20th century almost never happened: Newman's Own was the name intended for a restaurant the movie star wanted to open near his home in Westport, Conn. But the idea never went anywhere, freeing up Newman to start a business in the early 1980s with his friend Hotchner, a bestselling author (Papa Hemingway), selling a salad dressing made from Newman's personal recipe. The rest is history. As this breezy memoir recalls, the two broke every rule for launching a new food business, ignoring the failure rate for celebrity-themed products, demanding all-natural ingredients and bypassing nearly every aspect of market research (although they did hold one taste test at the home of local caterer Martha Stewart). Despite all this, they managed to pull in nearly $1 million in profits their first year, all earmarked for charity, and have since launched many more products and donated nearly $140 million. This part of the story doesn't really have a lot of meat to it, but it is an entertaining string of anecdotes, song parodies and wacky customer letters. The book's second half becomes more somber as it shifts focus to the Hole in the Wall Gang, the organization they created to build and run camps for children with serious illnesses. The origins of each of the eight camps are recounted in detail, along with letters from some of the campers. A slew of appendixes, including several recipes utilizing Newman's Own products, rounds out the text.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Movie actor Newman and his writer friend Hotchner broke all the business rules to become significant players in the food industry--and used their profits to open summer camps for critically ill children. They started selling Newman's "home brew" salad dressing in 1982 as a joke, but in the following 20 years they gained national recognition with an expanded product line, allowing them to give away $150 million. Their Hole in the Wall Gang camps (named after the outlaw band led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, immortalized on film by Newman and Robert Redford), which serve children with life-threatening diseases, became very successful. Noted for strict attention to the quality of staff and operations, the camps have been replicated in several states and in other countries, too. This is a witty and inspiring tale, not coincidentally also excellent public relations for the authors, their food products, and their fund-raising efforts for the children's camps. Mary Whaley
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