Don't you like writing letters? I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961), writer
Some of you may remember Lazlo Toth. He wrote letters to stars, dignitaries, and chairmen of the country's most powerful organizations. Toth was really Don Novello's alter ego who pestered his victims for photographs, offered outlandish advice, fired off strange inquiries, and more. The strangest part? Practically everyone answered, leaving Toth with a hilarious collection of outlandish correspondence unmatched in the history of American letters.
I was so inspired by his book I wrote a few of my own letters back in the 1980s. I will post them over the next few days and the replies:
January 2, 1985
Hunt-Wesson Foods, Inc.
c/o Orville Redenbacher
Fullerton, California 92634
Dear Mr. Redenbacher:
I have my doubts that you are a real person, but I will write this letter as If I am talking to you.
My concern is you are some figment of an advertising person’s imagination such as Betty Crocker. I enjoy popping corn immensely. It is just utopia to watch a good movie, eat Orville Redenbacher popping corn, and wash it down with a large glass of water.
However, as I was preparing the premium popping corn I asked myself, my friends, my mother and anyone else who I thought might know the answer – is there really an Orville Redenbacher and why does he wear the funny bow tie?
My questions are as follows:
- Why are you called Orville Redenbacher?
- Why would you devote your life to experimenting with popcorn?
- The label says every popping corn is sorted and polished. I find it hard to believe every kernel is individually polished. Does that mean that there is some plant outside the United States hiring cheap labor to was each kernel and ship it back?
- Also, your slogan: “You’ll like it better or my name isn’t …” I want to know what you will call yourself if someone prefers Jiffy?
- Lastly, I would like an autographed picture of you to prove this is not some Betty Crocker type of fake.
I am sorry Orville, if you are real, to put you and your claims to the test, but I believe in honesty in advertising.
The Misanthrope (obviously, this is a pseudonym, but I signed the original, now I wished I had not)
Popping Corn Eater