About an old friend, the green bean casserole…

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Nov 20, 2013 - 12:47 PM

Photo: The American Thanksgiving favorite, the Green Bean Casserole, celebrates its 58th birthday. Photo courtesy of Campbell's Kitchen

The American Thanksgiving favorite, the Green Bean Casserole, celebrates its 58th birthday. Photo courtesy of Campbell's Kitchen

In today’s world there is one Thanksgiving staple, besides the turkey; that’s the green bean casserole. It is only 58 years old and is perhaps the youngest addition to this celebrated meal.

The green bean casserole was drawn up in the Campbell’s Kitchen in 1955 and it has found its place among the Turkey Day trimmings ever since. Its creation is credited to home economist Dorcas Reilly, who was tasked with combining as few ingredients as possible to create a nutritious dinner using ingredients that most Americans would have in their pantry. Reilly determined that most households had leftover cans of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and a stash of green beans. So with these two staples she began. The completed dish only required five or six ingredients.

It wasn’t an instant hit; there were three earlier versions of the recipe that didn’t quite make it. But with a bit of adjusting it did take off. When it appeared in an Associated Press Feature for Thanksgiving in 1955, its success was assured.

This American classic is deemed the mother of comfort food, and is primarily made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, green beans and French’s French Fried Onions. This year, it will adorn over 40 million American tables on Thanksgiving Day, according to Globe Newswire. In 2005, Campbell’s estimated that it sold $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup—just to people making this casserole for Turkey Day.

In 2002 Reilly donated the original copy of her green bean casserole recipe to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The yellowed 8x11-inch card can now be found with Enrico Fermi’s invention of the first controlled nuclear reactor and Thomas Edison’s light bulb and phonograph.