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/ February 6, 2013
NYU Owned A Noodle Factory

A little known fact: NYU used to own a macaroni business.

It was NYU’s first attempt to become a global university—acquiring Italian food. The company was called Mueller Pasta Co. and was donated to the NYU School of Law in 1947 by a couple of wealthy alumni. Dean Aurthur Vanderbilt, with his ambitions set for NYU expansion, was more than happy to accept Mueller Pasta under NYU’s jurisdiction.

The relationship was a success, to say the least. Profits from Mueller helped NYU Law refurbish and expand at a rapid pace. Mueller money was in fact so critical, that Vanderbilt Hall was aptly nicknamed “Noodle Hall” after the source of its financing.

However, controversy appeared when it was discovered that NYU was attempting to maximize profits by extending its own tax-exempt status onto the pasta business.

Representative Dingell, in a 1950 congressional meeting called it a macaroni monopoly, and accused NYU of trying to reap all the income without paying the government a penne. The case of the macaroni monopoly actually became the basis for a law passed that year in congress, limiting extension of tax exemption only to organizations that were relevant to the original tax-exempt body.

By 1976, the School of Law was excelling from the pasta income, but the rest of NYU was straggling behind due to rising debt and plummeting enrollment. NYU Law realized that it could not maintain its quality status if it was attached to a struggling school, and agreed to sell Mueller Pasta for $115 million to help out NYU.

NYU no longer owns macaroni, but the evidence is still there; much of the Washington Square campus was built upon pasta money.

[Image via.]