Orville Redenbacher Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Childhood and Early Life
American businessman Orville Clarence Redenbacher was born in Brazil, Indiana on the 16 July 1907 to William Redenbacher, a farmer, and Julia Dierdorff. He first started growing popcorn as a hobby when he was a boy. Redenbacher had one sibling, a brother Karl.
Orville Redenbacher was educated at Purdue University where he studied agronomy.
Rise To Stardom
After graduating from university Orville Redenbacher worked as a Vigo County Farm Bureau Extension agent in Terre Haute and at Princeton Farms in Indiana. He ran a successful fertiliser business. Redenbacher and partner Charlie Bowman bought the George F. Chester and Son seed corn plant near Valparaiso, Indiana in 1951. They named their company Chester Hybrids.
Orville Redenbacher was interested in creating perfect popping corn and spent his spare time working on a new strain. Once he found a strain, he was happy they called their hybrid popping corn RedBow. Later, on the advice of marketing experts, the name was changed to Orville Redenbacher Popcorn. The product was launched in 1970 and Redenbacher travelled around selling his gourmet popcorn.
By 1973 Orville Redenbacher appeared on television promoting the product. The advertisements became popular, and in later years he appeared with his grandson Gary Redenbacher. During the mid-seventies, the product had won a third of the popping corn market in the United States.
The brand was sold to Hunt-Wesson Foods in 1976, and later it was owned by ConAgra. Redenbacher continued appearing in commercials. By this stage his hair was white, and he wore his trademark bow-tie and black spectacles.
Personal Life and Legacy
His first wife was Corrine Strate whom he married in 1928. They stayed married until her death in 1971. He then married Nina in 1971, and they remained together until her death in 1991. Redenbacher had two daughters.
Orville Redenbacher died on September 19, 1995, from a heart attack. He was eighty-eight years of age.
Valparaiso, Indiana started a Popcorn Festival in 1979 to celebrate Redenbacher’s development of his popcorn hybrid in the area. At the 2012 Popcorn Festival, a statue of Redenbacher was unveiled to honour his legacy.
In 1988 Purdue University presented Orville Redenbacher with an honorary doctorate from the College of Agriculture.
In 2005 ConAgra developed a website orville.com which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the product and honours Orville Redenbacher and his involvement.