Vincent Albert “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. has served as the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island twice, each stint in office ending in a prison term. Now he has announced plans to run again, which made reporters curious about one of his projects to do good for humanity: his “Mayor’s Own” pasta sauce, which costs about $6 per jar and brags about “Benefiting Providence School Children” on the front. Does it? Benefit school children, that is? It might if it made any money.
The sauce, which has been on the market since 1995, is marketed as a product that donates all of its profits to Cianci’s fund that awards scholarships to college-bound graduates of the Providence public schools. The problem with this cause marketing is that the sauce is not exactly profitable. Specifically, the Associated Press calculated that it has earned a total of $3 over the last few years. Some years it posted a loss of a few thousand dollars, and other years it posted a profit of a few thousand dollars. That means that the sauce made $3 over the last four years.
Cianci and his advisors blame past distributors for the brand’s troubles, and admit that the language on the label about benefiting the children of Providence might be a little misleading. Still, they don’t want to give up producing the sauce because sales could pick up…especially if Cianci’s campaign for a third mayorship is successful.
Fortunately, the marinara isn’t the only source of income for the scholarship fund: it held fundraisers such as a golf tournament a decade or so ago, and awards scholarships out of the money it earns from investments. It currently has about $500,000 in assets and awarded 13 scholarships worth $1,000 each in 2014.