OFFBEAT: Grandson still trying to publish new book about Orville Redenbacher

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-17T00:00:00Z 2013-07-17T10:50:04Z OFFBEAT: Grandson still trying to publish new book about Orville RedenbacherBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

In July 2011, I first published a column alerting about a "new soon-to-be-published" in-depth biography of Orville Redenbacher by his eldest grandson, Kevin R. Fish, tentatively titled "Popping Into History: Orville Redenbacher and His Times."

At the time, the plan was for the book to be published by Indiana University Press, but a final agreement and workable manuscript were never reached.

The idea for this book came from a magazine article the author wrote about his grandfather titled "More Than Popcorn: The Life and Times of Orville Redenbacher" that appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of the Indiana Historical Society's journal Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History.

Fish, who lives in San Hose, Calif., tells me he then reworked the earlier drafts of the book and arranged meetings with Charles Watkinson and the Purdue University Press. However, for now, Fish says this publishing house has also rejected the manuscript.

"Charles characterized the material as fairly minor examples of Orville's name recognition and that they do not make the point very well," Fish told me.

"Would you mind publishing this first attachment in your newspaper? It details impressions that Grandpa Orville made during his lifetime. The first paragraph comprises my personal observations. The other two paragraphs come from a telephone interview between John Drazer and myself on July 31, 2011, in Purdue University Libraries, Archives & Special Collections, West Lafayette, Ind. Thank you!"

Here's what Orville's grandson has to say in the excerpt he provided from his writings:

"The accomplishments of Orville Redenbacher earned him a place in history, but he has also made a strong impression on people, which continues to this very day. Prior to the arrival of the Redenbacher popcorn on the scene, there was no real person whose name was recalled when the word 'popcorn' was mentioned. Whenever the word is now mentioned, people of all ages still think of the name Orville Redenbacher. This has not been true for other brands of popcorn. Other impressions that Redenbacher made have been revealed by John Drazer, who worked in Chester, Inc.'s fertilizer sales business in 1974-1978. He noted that Redenbacher 'stood out' when he attended Chester's annual company dinners. Drazer also explained that one of his uncles, John Hannon, owned the Frost-Stop Drive-In restaurant in Valparaiso from 1958 until about 1996, and that Redenbacher ate lunch there several times a week, and he would only order a Coney dog and a pineapple shake every time. Moreover, Drazer noted that he sometimes went to Florida, such as about 1983, and that, when he mentioned that he was from Indiana, people would always say that they knew about Redenbacher and Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight."

Thank you for sharing Kevin and good luck! Yesterday, Tuesday, July 16, would have been Orville's 106th birthday! He died at his condo in Coronado, Calif. at age 88 in September 1995.

Congrats and correction

The winners of Sunday's call-in contest for CDs and tickets to folk singer Maya Isacowitz's concert Aug. 11 in Munster in the social hall of the Jewish Federation of NWI are Judy Sidenbender of Schererville, Tom Utrata of Chicago and Michelle Tatgenhorst of Valparaiso. There are still tickets available for $10. In Sunday's column, my apologies for including an incorrect telephone number. FYI: (219) 922-4024 or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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