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.
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.