'Just Call Me Orville' book celebrates 'King of Popcorn's' Purdue roots

July 26, 2011

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As well as being one of the most recognized advertising icons in the United States, the late Orville Redenbacher was a proud Purdue alumnus who credited the education he received at the university as one of the greatest contributors to his success. "Just Call Me Orville: The Story of Orville Redenbacher" is a new biography of the "Popcorn King" published by Purdue University Press that focuses on his Indiana roots.

Written by the late Bob Topping, a Purdue historian, the manuscript is based on a series of interviews Topping conducted in the mid-1990s with financial support from ConAgra, the agribusiness giant that now owns the Orville Redenbacher brand. The book tells of Redenbacher's boyhood in Brazil, Ind.; his increasing interest in agriculture fostered by 4-H; and his professional education in agronomy and plant genetics at Purdue.

While at Purdue, Redenbacher also played in the band, was a journalist on The Exponent staff and was a student athlete.

The book follows his career after he left the university and moved through high school teaching to become a county agent in Terre Haute. He also was manager and then owner of a succession of agricultural businesses, culminating in the creation of Chester Inc., the Valparaiso-based company that is still active. His lifelong interest in producing better seed corn hybrids and his unwillingness to accept failure are themes.

However, also standing out in the stories told in the book are his mischievous sense of humor and his love of family.

Purdue University Press published the book on July 16, the 114th anniversary of Redenbacher's birth. The book is available from booksellers or order direct on the web at http://www.thepress.purdue.edu  or by phone at 1-800-247-6553.

Purdue University Press, founded in 1960, is the publishing arm of Purdue University. Dedicated to the dissemination of scholarly and professional information, the Press provides quality resources in several key subject areas including business, technology, health, veterinary medicine and other limited disciplines in the humanities and sciences. The Press annually publishes more than 25 books, five traditional journals and 10 open access journals.

Contact: Becki Corbin, 765-494-8144, rlcorbin@purde.edu