There are many wonderful things about celebrating Thanksgiving: the chance to spend time with friends and family and a break from school or work are often at the top of the list. Even so, there’s nothing quite like sitting down to a delicious meal with the ones you love.
This year, between viewings of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and primetime football, consider reflecting on the dishes you’ll be digging into. The staples we look forward to likely have both a personal family history and a societal history of their own. Take, for example, the story of green bean casserole.
In 1954, Dorcas Reilly worked as a recipe developer and manager at Campbell Soup Company’s Test Kitchen. She was tasked with creating a recipe that used two ingredients most Americans had on hand at the time: canned green beans and Campbell’s condensed cream of mushroom soup. After testing different recipes, Reilly’s final product was the result of a true experiment. She repeatedly adjusted ingredient quantities and bake times to determine which components created optimal flavor. Her recipe reflects the many trials she conducted, as well as her determination to get things just right.
Reilly’s dish was originally called the “Green Bean Bake,” and it gained its popularity when Campbell began printing the recipe on its mushroom soup cans. Though the dish is now Campbell’s most requested recipe, Reilly said she didn’t realize how popular it was until 40 years later.
In 2002, Campbell and Reilly donated the recipe to the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF). Reilly attended a presentation held at the NIHF Museum (then located in Akron, Ohio), and shared stories about her experience working in the test kitchen. The aged 8-by-11-inch recipe was also officially transferred to the NIHF archives so that it could be preserved long-term.
Today, Campbell estimates that 20 million households enjoy green bean casserole each Thanksgiving. Reilly passed away in 2018, but her culinary contributions ensure that her legacy will persist for years to come.
This holiday season and beyond, we should remember her philosophy: ”Food should be fun. Food should be happy.”
Test and Share
Looking for a savory dish for Thanksgiving dinner? Try making the original Green Bean Casserole recipe and share this blog with friends and family. Who knows, you may find your own way to put a spin on the classic!