Indiana's Official State Snack - Popcorn - Has a Poppin' Southern Indiana Legacy

Whether you like it extra buttery, flavored, or plain, almost everybody has a favorite kind of popcorn. The very best popcorn has profound Indiana roots - Princeton, Indiana to be exact.


Growing up in Princeton, I always thought that Orville Redenbacher was from Princeton or at least Gibson County. He was actually born in Brazil, IN., and went to Purdue University before moving to Princeton. While in Princeton, Redenbacher created a hybrid popcorn with Charles Bowman.

Keep Scrolling to Read More on the Scandal that Ran Orville Redenbacher out of Princeton. 

The World’s Most Expensive Popcorn” 

A public relations firm from the big city of Chicago consulted Orville and his partner Charles Bowman about how to sell more Red Bow popcorn.

  • Convince popcorn lovers that their product is the highest quality and costs more than their competitors.
  • Change the name to Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn
  • Using the tagline The World’s Most Expensive Popcorn
  • Featuring Redenbacher in the Television commercials

Orville Redenbacher Commercial, Jan 16, 1987

Scandal Pops Up

I remember stories of Orville Redenbacher getting fired from Princeton Farms, and there was some sort of scandal. Now, given my strange childhood memories, I wondered if I just dreamed this up, or if it really happened.

According to Orville's grandson, Kevin Fish, Orville deposited a farm tenant's check into his personal account. After that, the owners of Princeton Farms asked him to resign or be fired. Either way, it was for the best. After that,  Orville Redenbacher became the famous popcorn brand that we know and love.

Orville Redenbacher Commercial (1985)

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Gossip and Hearsay

Now, I wouldn't normally just throw out allegations of someone without them here to give their side of the story. But this gossip is just too buttery not to share with you. A very nice lady that used to work with us also grew up in Princeton, Indiana. She doesn't mind me sharing this tidbit, but I'll keep her name out of it. She told me that back in the day, rumors were poppin' all over town that Orville Redenbacher was having an affair with Tony Hulman's wife.

1992 Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn Comparison TV Commercial

Who is Tony Hulman Jr.?

Mr. Hulman not only owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway but he was also born into money. His father had been in the grocery business and left that and other ventures to Tony Jr. The connection between Tony Hulman and Princeton Farms was through his father's second wife, Grace Smith. Together they bought 12,000 acres of farmland in Princeton, Indiana. It was operated as Princeton Farms and Orville Redenbacher was hired to manage the farm. When Redenbacher was asked to resign, some say it was actually because he was having an affair with Mary Fendrich Hulman. Mary was married to Tony Hulman Jr.

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