The New Jersey beginnings of a Thanksgiving staple
As you sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal this year and dig into the green bean casserole, you’ll have a woman from New Jersey to thank. Dorcas Reilly, who died two years ago in Haddonfield at age 92, developed the beloved recipe while working in the test kitchen at Campbell Soup. According to the company, Reilly conceived the “mother of all comfort food” by combining ingredients she felt most Americans already in their home: green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup; add French fried onions, milk, soy sauce, and black pepper and in 10 minutes you can have a popular side dish.
She was one of the first members of Campbell Soup’s Home Economics department that was tasked with coming up with original recipes that included the company’s products. The iconic green bean casserole recipe was developed specifically for an article being written by the Associated Press in 1955 and was originally called the “Green Bean Bake.” Now, 65 years later, Campbell’s says that over 20 million American families will enjoy Reilly’s concoction this Thanksgiving; a full forty percent of all Cream of Mushroom Soup the company sells is destined for the green bean casserole.
According to Smithsonianmag.com, Dorcas, who had also created scores of other recipes including a noodle bake and tomato soup based meat loaf, was surprised at how popular her creation became; it became a major hit once the company began to print the recipe on soup cans. She also encouraged people to experiment with the recipe and come up with variations that reflected their personal tastes, so try something different this year!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.