For many the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without green bean casserole.

Is there any more famous side-dish than the classic green bean casserole?  It is of course a staple of the Thanksgiving dinner table, but people still enjoy it year-round particularly for potlucks and other gatherings.  It might be fair to say that the green bean casserole evokes strong reactions in people.  Some people love it and believe that the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without a bubbling hot dish of the canned soup laden frozen beans topped with crunchy fried onions.  And others would rather not have it anywhere near them any time of the year.  In recent times new and improved recipes for the casserole have been developed in an attempt to elevate the humble dish to a new level using things like wine, wild mushrooms, and fresh green beans.  But for some only the classic recipe will do.  Have you ever wondered where this iconic dish came from?

Recipe pamphlets were very popular from the late 1800’s through the 1970’s.  They were an inexpensive, portable alternative to cookbooks.  The Campbell’s Soup Company had its own test kitchen dedicated to creating recipe pamphlets.  A home economist named Dorcas Reilly worked in the test kitchen.  In 1955 she came up with the recipe for green bean casserole and it was an instant hit.  In later years Ms. Reilly was reported to have said that she couldn’t remember exactly how she was inspired to make the recipe.  But she knew that Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup was very popular as a casserole ingredient in the Midwest so she added frozen green beans to it and topped the mixture with fried onions to make it a bit more special.  The dish was extremely easy to prepare and used just a few staple items many women always had on hand.  Green Bean Casserole has remained popular and Campbell’s estimates that 40% of their Cream of Mushroom soups sales in the U.S. goes into making the dish.

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