The Truth About Orville Redenbacher

If the name Orville Redenbacher doesn't conjure up thoughts of beautiful, popped, cloud-like kernels that taste of salty, buttery, goodness, then we have to officially decline your membership card to the legions of popcorn devotees. If, on the other hand, we're on the same page, then consider this part of your initiation. Redenbacher, the Popcorn King, is, of course, the originator of the eponymous brand of popping corn with his affable image on the label that is sold in grocery stores throughout the country.

According to, he was born in 1907 on a farm in Brazil — no, not that Brazil, but a small city in Indiana. He started growing his own popping corn at the age of 12, earning him enough money from popcorn sales to attend Purdue University (go Boilermakers!) and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree. His popcorn journey didn't end there; the agricultural scientist would go on to revolutionize the popcorn process.

He had help perfecting the popcorn brand

According to Mental Floss, Redenbacher didn't act alone. He had a business partner, fellow Purdue graduate Charles Bowman. Redenbacher and Bowman purchased the George F. Chester and Son seed corn plant in Boone Township, Indiana in 1951. By 1965, they had created a new strand of popcorn that generates a whopping 44:1 ratio in volume of popped to unpopped corn according to (which is strikingly similar to our very own ratio of successfully microwaved to burnt bags of popcorn). Once the duo achieved regional success with their new strand of popping corn, they were ready to take their patented product to the national level.

Redenbacher and Bowman called their product "Red-Bow" until Carl Hartman got involved. In 1970, Hartman worked for a Chicago advertising agency that, for a fee of $13,000, advised Redenbacher and Bowman that their brand should simply be called "Orville Redenbacher." Of course, Redenbacher had his doubts. "I drove back to Indiana wryly thinking we had paid $13,000 for someone to come up with the same name my mother had come up with when I was born," Redenbacher later wrote (via Mental Floss). The brand took off. According to The Daily Meal, later that year, Chicago's Marshall Field's department store was the first store to carry Orville Redenbacher popcorn and became one of the country's top-selling brands within five years.

The Orville Redenbacher brand lives on

With his iconic white hair, bowtie, and thick-rimmed glasses, Redenbacher's wholesome image on the cover of popcorn boxes and in commercials helped make the brand what is today. According to Biography, eventually the brand was sold to Hunt-Wesson Foods in 1976, and after a series of business buyouts wound up in the hands of ConAgra.

Though Redenbacher, the man, died in 1995, his popcorn legend is immortal. Today, Orville Redenbacher popcorn is sold in a variety of snack-satisfying products. For fellow butter enthusiasts, you can find the classic Movie Theater Butter in the regular microwave bags, mini bags, and the in-the-theater-feeling-fulfilling butter tub. We think it's a good value, and very buttery. But, for the ultimate butter rush, the Pour Over Movie Theater Butter variety lets you be the master of your own popcorn making — let a few golden droplets fall on that heavenly popcorn pile or really live it up and indulge your inner popcorn fantasies with your own butter avalanche.