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Popcorn, Sand and Molten Steel

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posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 05:57 AM
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(Heh, yeah, you figure out what forum this one best fits in!)

How many people have ever heard of Orville Redenbacher's Pop Corn???

Probably quite a few I suspect.

And, why would a post about Orville Redenbacher's Pop Corn belong in the Science & Technology forum??? Well, read on and you'll see.

Back in the early 60's my father was a VP of Engineering for Gary Steel Works in Gary, Indiana. At the time, Gary Works was one of the largest steel manufacturing mills in the world (still the largest in North America). In the steel business, steel is generally made in "blast furnaces". The molten steel is released from the blast furnaces into these massive insulated rail cars called "torpedo cars". The steel is then transported across the facility grounds to rolling or processing mills where it is shaped into whatever the end product is. But, back in the early 60's Gary Steel had a serious and recurring problem!

Gary Steel sits on the lakeshore of Lake Michigan so they can bring the Iron Ore in by ship. The lakeshore in this area is primarily made of sand. The distance between the blast furnaces and the production mills was a couple miles. So the train tracks between the two were laid on foundations in the sand. However, frequently the train tracks would shift in the shifting sands and cause the rail cars with molten steel to derail. When this happened the steel would cool and solidify creating massive problems. Worse, this situation would also halt further steel production at the entire plant (a really big deal). Fixing the mess each time it would happen was a mammoth undertaking involving dozens of pieces of huge earthwork equipment, and huge cranes to remove the rail cars from the track filled with, now solid, steel. It's hard to even imagine how difficult this process was. Many times the train derailments would cause massive and fiery explosions if the molten steel spilled out on the ground, and these would often make the local news.

Okay, but what does all this have to do with Orville Redenbacher's Pop Corn????

Over the years they tried everything to combat the shifting sands, and nothing worked. They tried retaining walls, they tried elevating the tracks, and everything else they could think of. The sand would always win.

At one point my father was approached by an eccentric seemingly older gentleman who claimed he could solve their problem. The man was none other than Orville Redenbacher. Redenbacher claimed he had developed a special strain of corn which, if irrigated properly, would grow in sand. The corn would stabilize the sand so it wouldn't shift. And it worked!

This special strain of corn used would ultimately become 'Orville Redenbacher's Pop Corn'.

And so it was molten steel on the shifting sands of Gary, Indiana along the Lake Michigan shoreline which launched Orville Redenbacher and his popping corn to the fame it endures to this day.

And now you know...the rest of the story (to quote the great Paul Harvey)


P.S. - On a funny side note, Redenbacher had all these crazy terms, and Gary Steel had to do everything "his way" or else he'd refuse to do it. One of these involved using plastic irrigation pipe. Well, you just didn't use plastic anything on the property of the US's largest steel mill...especially pipe! It was steel, or it wasn't used at Gary Steel...period. Not with Redenbacher; it was "his way, or the highway!" (and they wound up using plastic pipe)

Dad got to know Redenbacher pretty well, and Redenbacher gave him a lifetime supply of what would become "Orville Redenbacher's Popping Corn". I remember as a kid having literally thousands of unlabeled jars of popcorn (just shelves and shelves of the stuff). Me and my friends used to use the stuff in our pea-shooters.




edit on 12/15/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 06:10 AM
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Interesting story ! Thanks for sharing.👍🏼



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 06:23 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Did they ever try to anchor to the bedrock? Did any of the corn pop when the hot train cars went by? Another great read .....Thank You !!



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 06:26 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

You mean the "pop" corn wasnt invented by the steel spilling onto the crop forcing it to POP?


edit on 15-12-2018 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 06:30 AM
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a reply to: Tarzan the apeman.

To be honest, I don't know the details of what all they tried exactly. I just know these were some pretty smart engineers, and they knew how to build big stuff, and this problem wasn't one they could easily solve.

I was about 0.5 years old at the time. All I remember is the story...and the shelves and shelves of popcorn. I ate so much popcorn as a kid I got sick of the stuff. I think Mom thought it was one of the food groups!



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 06:30 AM
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DBL


edit on 12/15/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 06:47 AM
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originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
a reply to: Tarzan the apeman.

To be honest, I don't know the details of what all they tried exactly. I just know these were some pretty smart engineers, and they knew how to build big stuff, and this problem wasn't one they could easily solve.

I was about 0.5 years old at the time. All I remember is the story...and the shelves and shelves of popcorn. I ate so much popcorn as a kid I got sick of the stuff. I think Mom thought it was one of the food groups!



for only being 6 months old at the time you remember a lot



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 07:26 AM
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Very cool. Actually having worked in an integrated steel mill (Geneva Steel, Utah), I've always wanted to visit some place like Gary. I went to Chicago a couple years back, and I was telling my wife it would be fun to take a steel tour trip in that area.

Sadly, the tore the plant down about 10 years ago. Luckily, I never worked in the blast furnace, but did go visit a few times. Worked in the 'old' open hearth before the qbop, then in the eot cranes. Operated the crane that dumped the 'hot metal' from the blast furnace into the mixer. (Big, 2 million pound vessel to hold the metal until the furnaces were ready for it). Ran the floor crane that dumped the metal into the furnaces to be smelted into steel. Mostly in "the pit" crane, where 3000 degree steel was poured (teemed) into 20-30 ton ingot molds.
edit on 15-12-2018 by jhin1place because: Typos



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 07:43 AM
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a reply to: jhin1place

foundry
mill
refinery

these are crazy places man.

the # we see every day that just seems so normal.
i walk by things happening every day like its nothing that people would cross the street to avoid

you know what im saying



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 07:44 AM
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a reply to: jhin1place

Worked for a while at Great Lakes Steel in Detroit. Zug Island (where the blast furnaces were) was like being in a 24x7 apocalypse in every sense of the word! Electric furnace shop was the same way a lot of times. Continuous rolling mill cold get pretty crazy sometimes too. Always loved it when the guys shoveling the salt on the semi-molten ingots fresh out of the reheat shop would throw some extra salt on when they saw some newbies around. That was always good for a laugh when they hit the first set of rollers! **BOOM!! Sparks everywhere!**

ETA - Oh, and you want to talk about really, really, crazy? Have you ever seen them oxygen lance a blast furnace?? I don't know what those guys nards are made out of, but it's not any material from this planet, that's for sure!! Hell, just the oxygen lance itself is scary enough, not to mention the tidal wave of molten steel and slag that's about ready to blow out!!


edit on 12/15/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 10:13 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

its really fun when some dumb ass tosses 50lbs of wet pig into the melter

thats a 50lb bullet right there



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 10:50 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Thanks for sharing this clay disk.

I love your threads, whether stories like this, recipes or any other topic... You never let down.



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 11:36 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

What an awesome story! One of the reason I love ATS.

Thanks for sharing that.




posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 12:28 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

No #ing way!

Thats AWESOME!

Orville Redenbacher Popcorn is as American as apple pie.



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 12:31 PM
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Kind of a corny thread if you ask me. Steeling the attention of the site.

So you grew up in Indiana?



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 12:51 PM
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originally posted by: TinySickTears
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

its really fun when some dumb ass tosses 50lbs of wet pig into the melter

thats a 50lb bullet right there


I did a local history book on the steelworks which was close to where I grew up (now long since closed) - the number of accidents caused by water or slag meeting hot metal was an eye opener.



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 12:56 PM
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Awesome story. I was a field scout back home in Indiana right out of high school. Scouted Orville Redenbacher popcorn fileds around Francesville.



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 12:57 PM
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a reply to: rickymouse

No, I only lived there for less than a year shortly after I was born.

I grew up in Wyoming.



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 01:04 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Just as I was born the local steel works to here (Consett, Uk) were closing and I remember the remains of the site rather then the working of it but the sheer size of it surprises people when you tell them. In the 1850-1890's era it was one of the biggest (for a time said to be the biggest) works in world but it was outgrown by others.

I'm told it was a horrendous place to work - accidents were far to common (my grandad and aunt both died from the effects of the place).



posted on Dec, 15 2018 @ 01:26 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

That was a great read mate.







 
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