The creator of the green bean casserole, a mainstay of Thanksgiving tables, has died at 92.
Dorcas Reilly came up with the dish while working in the test kitchen at Campbell Soup Company. According to the Washington Post, the recipe started with a request from the Associated Press.
The Post reports:
In 1955, the AP, like other newspapers and magazines of the time, was running a feature of an easy-to-make Campbell’s Soup side. The question came with a caveat: the recipe had to be built around green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, two items most Americans regularly had in their homes in the ’50s.
The request fell to the Campbell’s Soup Co. test kitchen in Camden, N.J., an arm of the company that focused on coming up with recipes for its products. Dorcas Reilly, a supervisor for Campbell’s home economics department, was tasked with leading her team to figure out what could be done. The group would test and grade recipes repeatedly. Only a perfect score would qualify it as ready to go. In November of that year, Reilly and her team settled on what would be first known as “the Green Bean Bake,” an easily adaptable six-ingredient recipe of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper and French fried onions that takes 10 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake.
The New York Times reports that the recipe exemplified popular recipes that arose in the ’50s from companies aiming to popularize dishes including their products. According to the Times:
The dish epitomizes the easy recipes that became popular in the 1950s, when companies promoted them to increase demand for their products.
“It was convenience with a touch of glamour,” said Laura Shapiro, a culinary historian and author of “Something From the Oven,” a book about American cuisine in the 1950s.
She added that the French’s crispy fried onions that the recipe called for were the “touch of genius” in the dish.