Orville Redenbacher's® Brand History

"You'll like it better or my name isn't Orville Redenbacher." That's the promise Orville made more than 40 years ago—and the same promise we stand by today. Orville Redenbacher dedicated his life to perfecting a lighter, fluffier popcorn. Take a look at the life—and the TV personality—of everyone's favorite popcorn king.


1907

Orville was born on a farm in Brazil, Indiana, which, as luck would have it, is a great place to grow corn.

Today: Brazil still celebrates their hometown hero with their annual Popcorn Festival of Clay County.

1919

At 12 years old, Orville begins to grow his own popping corn. It becomes his passion, and his first business, allowing him to save enough for college.

Today: Orville's early passion for popcorn eventually resulted in exclusive hybrids that pop lighter and fluffier—making Orville the #1 popcorn in the world.

1928

Orville earns his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from Purdue University, where he was a fleet-footed member of the track team.

Today: Orville's legacy at Purdue lives on with the Orville Redenbacher Top of the Crop Scholarship.

1929

The Great Depression begins. For those who have popcorn, though, it's much less depressing.

1944

Orville begins raising popcorn for the supermarket trade. It was about time someone put the "super" in supermarket.

Today: You can find a wide array of Orville products in retailers across the country. From our gourmet kernels you pop up on the stove to wide range of microwave flavors such as Movie Theater Butter, 94% Fat Free Kettle Korn, and Spicy Nacho.

1947

Chuck Yeager becomes the first human to travel faster than the speed of sound. He reports hearing the world's second-most perfect pop.

1965

Orville and his business partner Charles Bowman perfect their popcorn hybrid—it is light and fluffy, leaves hardly any unpopped kernels, has minimal hulls, and achieves a 44:1 ration in volume of popped to unpopped corn, and, of course, tastes great.

Today: Orville's popcorn is still the lightest and fluffiest thanks to Orville's exclusive hybrid and meticulous moisture control from harvest to packaging.

1969

NASA launches Apollo 11 and lands on the moon. With one step, Neil Armstrong discovers the true meaning of lighter and fluffier. This same year, Orville has a launch of his own with his first popcorn brand, Red-Bow.

1976

Vintage Orville

Orville puts his "lighter, fluffier" challenge to the test in his first commercial ever—now a classic.

1981

Vintage Orville

Orville brings his gourmet popping corn to a "glamorous" cooking show.

1983

Today: The results? Even smarter, tastier creations, such as 94% Fat-Free SmartPop!

1987

Vintage Orville

Orville's grandson Gary joins him to explain their meticulous process for achieving perfect pop.

1989

Vintage Orville

Orville taps his grandson Gary to help celebrate the big news: their first light microwave popcorn.

1990

ConAgra Foods® acquires the Orville Redenbacher's brand—quite possibly the tastiest acquisition in American history.

1991

Vintage Orville

Orville and grandson Gary bring the "ours versus theirs" challenge into the microwave era.

1992

Orville continues meeting the demands of health-conscious snackers by launching SmartPop! 94% Fat Free and it's every bit as satisfying as the rest of his line. SmartPop! makes Orville Redenbacher's passion for popcorn perfection even smarter.

Today: SmartPop! is still going strong. With 6 whole cups of popped corn only adding up to 100 calories, SmartPop! gives you way more than other 100-calorie snacks.

1995

Family and friends at Orville Redenbacher's mourn the loss of Orville. Though it's a sad time, the pursuit of new innovations in popcorn perfection continues—just as Orville would have it.

Today: Orville's lifetime passion for bringing family and friends together through the best popcorn will never be forgotten.

2000

Orville, showing amazing foresight, developed all of his popcorn hybrids so that they are unaffected by the Y2K bug, still tasting great well into the 21st century.

Today: All kidding aside, foresight and technological innovation remain one of our cornerstones, with innovations such as Cheddar Cheese and Spicy Nacho flavors that pop up hot and fresh in your microwave.

2005

Happy Anniversary! It's the 40th Anniversary of Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn, still the #1 selling brand in America. The event was celebrated with—what else—popcorn.

Today: That 40-year heritage gives Orville Redenbacher's the ability to consistently create lighter and fluffier kernels.

2007

Orville's high-quality standards lead to the development of an all-natural snack that actually tastes good. Orville Redenbacher's Natural line of popcorn includes classic flavors such as Simply Salted and fun gourmet flavors such as Buttery Salt & Cracked Pepper and Lime & Salt.

Today: The reviews are in! Rachel Ray magazine names Lime & Salt the "Best Microwave Popcorn" and Health magazine calls it "Best Snack Food."

2010

Always pursuing perfection like the brand's namesake, Orville researchers develop a new microwave cheese product that pops up hot and fresh in the microwave, giving families a whole new reason to gather around a bowl of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn.

2011

Pop Up Bowl Launches: The new Pop Up Bowl™ that makes snacking with the whole family even easier hits the market. People love the popcorn that pops in its own bowl so much, they vote it Product of the Year in the Consumer Survey of Product Innovation.

2012

Ready to Eat: Why did it take so long for us to launch Ready-to-Eat Popcorn? We wanted it to be perfect. Each tasty kernel is 30% larger and fluffier than the leading ready-to-eat popcorn,* so there's more to love, and it's ready to eat whenever you are.

2013

Just like Orville, we never seem to stop dreaming up new (and delicious) popcorn varieties. So we introduced our new Gourmet Naturals—tender white kernels and all–natural ingredients that mix perfectly to create flavors that are far from ordinary. But with half the fat of Orville Redenbacher's butter–flavored microwave popcorn. So you get 100% gourmet flavor that’s 100% guilt free.