, | Certificate of Distinction: 1983
"I've loved popping corn as long as I can remember. Even when I was a boy and we popped corn my father grew in our garden, I dreamed of ways to develop a popping corn that would pop up fluffier and taste better than any other." I took that statement directly from a can of "Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn" to give you a clue to the secret of this man's success. His burning desire for excellence has taken him to the point in life where his name (even though often mispronounced) is a common household word throughout the United States. Orville Redenbacher, Coronado, California, was raised on a small farm near Brazil, Indiana. There, his tendency to excel began. He was a member of many state champion 4-H judging teams. He received an appointment to West Point, but chose instead to attend the Purdue School of Agriculture where he was active in the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and was an editor of the Debris, the Agriculturalist, and the Exponent. In 1928, he graduated and became a vocational agriculture teacher for one year before joining the Indiana Cooperative Extension forces as an assistant agent in Terre Haute. Soon, he was appointed county agricultural agent, and served in an imaginative way until 1939. He left Extension to organize Princeton Farms, then the largest farm in Indiana. He instigated many innovative programs in purebred livestock production, hybrid seed corn, certified seed, and, as you would expect, began production of Princeton Farms popcorn. While there, Orville assumed positions of leadership in state programs in all the areas of agricultural production in which he was involved. In 1952, Redenbacher and Charles Bowman organized Chester Hybrids at Valparaiso. They rapidly became a leading regional producer of hybrid corn, small grain seeds, popcorn seed, and sold agricultural equipment and supplies as well. They also packaged popping corn, but it was not until 1970 that they entered the gourmet popcorn business with Marshall Field &. Co. in Chicago as their first customer. The idea of a high quality premium popcorn that catered to the desire of people to have something just a bit better caught on and Orville Redenbacher was soon to be famous.