Paul Newman could put his picture on a sack of old grass clippings and it would sell. That's good news for charity, as all profits from ''Newman's Own'' products are donated to various charities.
The fact that Newman puts his picture and his endorsement on high-quality products is good news for the consumer as well.
First came Newman's Own Salad Dressing, followed by his Industrial Strength Venetian Marinara Spaghetti Sauce. Now Newman's Own Oldstyle Picture Show Popcorn has exploded on the market.
Mr. Newman held the first ''official'' popping of his new product on the grounds of the Westport Historical Society. As he strolled around in his red-and-white striped shirt and plastic boater, cameras whirred, corn popped, and the Muskrat Banjo Band played on.
Should Orville Redenbacher be scared about the popcorn challenger?
''He'd better be scared,'' said Newman with a twinkle in his eyes. (I think they're blue.)
He and partner, author A. E. Hotchner, expect to have donated $2.5 million to charity by the end of this year.
Not only are Newman's Own products available at local markets, they are also distributed in Australia, Canada, England, Guam, and Japan.