Is Oprah Winfrey getting ready to pull a Paul Newman on us?
We’ll admit that we only have the vaguest idea of what the media maven has been up to since she ended her reign as the queen of daytime talk (we think we get OWN—like on channel 176 or something). But now comes news that Oprah might be getting into the organics game.
According to recent filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, Oprah—or, no doubt, her lawyers—has registered trademarks for “Oprah’s Organics,” “Oprah’s Farm” and “Oprah’s Harvest,” reports the New York Post.
A PR rep seemed to downplay the story, saying: “The trademarks were filed for Oprah’s farm on Maui to enable the farm to grow and distribute produce on Maui and throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”
Now, Oprah does indeed own hundreds of acres on Maui, and her property includes a working farm. But as much as we’d like to imagine Oprah and BFF Gayle King in matching sunhats hawking organic mangoes at the local farmers market, it seems suspicious that the Post also reports that “Oprah’s Organics” is to be used for bath soaps, sunscreen, massage oils and hair products, as well as soups, beverages, frozen vegetables and…salad dressings (told ya, Paul Newman!).
Of course, time was that no matter what you were selling (books, cars, beauty products, diet plans), landing on the ever-expanding, ever-evolving list of Oprah’s “favorite things” was something like winning the lottery, waking up Christmas morning, and experiencing one of those mysterious “drink a bunch but don’t end up with a hangover” New Year’s Eves all rolled into one. Yet the organics industry hardly seems to need Oprah to wave her magic wand to reap mad success.
Last year, sales of organic products in the U.S. surpassed the $30 billion mark for the first time, growing by a whopping 9.5 percent (and that’s in a sluggish economy). Fruit and veggies added about half of the growth, but it was meat and poultry that posted the biggest gains.
And no wonder: a 2011 survey by NPR and Reuters found that 58 percent of Americans prefer to eat organic food over non-organic food.
We wonder whether Oprah herself ever had a fan base that big.