Orville Redenbacher

Always trust a funny-named man wearing matching suspenders and bow tie.

If you’re like me, you haven’t spent most of your life trying to perfect a strand of delicious snacks for the enjoyment of the general public. If you have done that, your experience is closer to that of Orville Clarence Redenbacher, which means you must be pretty awesome. In that case, congratulations, industrious reader!

What most of us haven’t accomplished is a life lived with a great funny name like Orville’s. We also don’t have an annual popcorn festival named after us in Brazil, Indiana. Or Brazil, Brazil for that matter, although I’m sure it’s a significant market for Orville’s popping corn.

In case you’re not familiar with today’s hero, Orville Redenbacher is of course the legendary figure behind the famous brand of popcorn named after his wonderful moniker. Young Redenbacher grew up on the family farm, and popcorn became his passion very early. And I don’t mean in the way it does for most of us, shoving fistfuls of the stuff into our mouths while watching Power Rangers. That might have been just me though. Regardless, Orville’s passion was in making the stuff. At the age of 12 he started growing his popping corn, making a little business out of it that allowed him to save enough money to go to college.

Orville didn’t just have a funny name, he also looked kinda funny.

He graduated from Purdue University in 1928 with a Bachelor’s degree in agriculture. 1928 was of course a terrific year to graduate, considering the Great Depression started the following year, but as the Orville Redenbacher website astutely points out, “for those who have popcorn, it’s much less depressing”.

Orville’s business grew as he spent the years trying to create the perfect popping corn. Finally, in 1965 he and partner Charles Bowman finalized their popcorn hybrid. Its main attribute was apparently how “light and fluffy” it was, as well as its great ratio of popped to unpopped corn. Again, the official Redenbacher website is right on the money in linking this advancement to the moon landing, where they say Neil Armstrong learned “the true meaning of lighter and fluffier”. You can’t make this up, but I’m glad they did.

Many of Orville’s legendary TV commercials are still played to this day, especially on that wonderful YouTubes machine the kids are always raving about. I personally couldn’t resist buying popcorn from a man wearing an enormous bow tie and flagrantly colored jackets so these ads are right up my alley. A man who was conscious of the amazing quality of his name, he famously ended his ads with “...or my name isn’t Orville Redenbacher.” It was, and what a beautiful name it was.

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About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names. www.funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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18 Responses to Orville Redenbacher

  1. Never has such a wonderful name been owned by such a wonderful looking dude. Thank God he wasn’t called Dave Smith, because with a bow tie like that, that would’ve just been wrong.

    • Dave says:

      I agree. Dave is such a stupid name. I wish I were Orville or Outerbridge!

      • Oh. My. God. When I made that comment I totally didn’t think about your name being Dave. I am so crass. I didn’t mean that Dave was a stupid name, I just meant that you can’t be a Dave if you wear a bow tie and braces and have crazy white hair… which you don’t, so you totally can be a Dave, and Dave really suits you, I mean… it’s just… it’s not that… I didn’t mean…. I’m sorry if… um……………………………..

        I’ve said too much.

        • Dave says:

          Hahahaha, you’re forgiven. It was Arto’s post anyway, so I was probably far from your mind. You also didn’t say that Dave was a stupid name. I did. And it is. I’ve spent many a day thinking how much cooler I’d be if my name was Arto, or Orville, or Colonel. Colonel Carlson… that’s a name that demands respect!

          Part of your forgiveness is also due to your usage of the word “crass.” British words have been on my mind since I posted that comment on your page earlier today. Chum, jolly, using “fancy” as a verb… these are all delightful things, as are your comments and your ability to write about your own inner comedic dialogue better than just about anyone else out there. I doubt you could say too much. Saying things is kind of what you do, beckysaysthings.

          • What a lovely thing to say, thank you! And you’re right, British words are brilliant. ‘Chum’ is amazing – but then I’m a big fan of ‘buddy’ – I just love seeing old American dudes sitting at bars and going ‘Oh, hey, bud’ when their friend sits down next to them. I love that.
            Even though Dave is a fine, upstanding name, I understand that it must be tough when you spend your days discovering names like ‘Benedict’ and ‘Spinwevel’ (I made that one up) – anyone would feel inadequate next to names like that. Why don’t you get it changed? If I were a man, I think I’d change my name to Zeus. Zeus Herold Offenbacher. Now there’s a name to be proud of.
            Thank you for your lovely words 🙂

  2. Dave says:

    To be honest, I’m quite impressed you could make it through an entire post on Orville Redenbacher without using the phrase “Gourmet Popping Corn.” I wasn’t sure whether to say “impressed” or “depressed,” but since I’m working on my loosey gooseyness, I figured impressed was a better way to go about it 🙂

  3. amb says:

    Arto!! Where were you last week, when I had popcorn (courtesy of Orville, natch) and reeses pieces for dinner?!? This post would have added a whole new level to that particular gourmet dining experience.

    • Arto says:

      I must have still been in the library, pouring through volumes upon volumes of local histories of Brazil, Indiana (full disclosure : I did not do this). I do apologize for the tardiness of my post, but, on the bright side you can always refer back to it when you find yourself popping some Orvilles!

  4. Bumba says:

    An inspiration for all us corny guys. What about Smucker’s jam? What’s the inside dope, i.e., first name?

    • Dave says:

      I think his name is JM Smucker… it is, I just looked it up. Apparently it’s Jerome Monroe Smucker, which is a darn good name and will probably make it into our blog at some point. Interesting notes: his initials are JMS and his products were jams. Another interesting note, The J.M. Smucker Co. is headquartered in Orrville, Ohio. Perhaps these guys have more in common than just awesome names and reputations as food mavens.

  5. aFrankAngle says:

    Orville commercials are classic … and I recall them when they were first shown.

  6. Pingback: Funny Names in the News Volume 28: A Very Special Cross-Over Edition! | The Blog of Funny Names

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