What Do Thomas Edison And Green Bean Casserole Have In Common?

November 23, 2011

I hope you are all getting ready for a warm and family-filled Thanksgiving weekend. My family’s plans have us dining out this year and I’ve been lamenting the fact that I would not be having any Green Bean Casserole.

I know. Sometimes my Minnesota comes out. But I am not alone.

#greenbeancasserole has no shortage or related tweets. And Facebook has more than a few group pages dedicated to the dish.

With its three staple ingredients of green beans, cream of mushroom soup and crunchy fried onions, the simple dish is said to be the most popular recipe ever to come out of the corporate kitchen of Camden-based Campbell Soup Co., where it was created in 1955.

I’ve read that the company estimates it sells $20 million worth of Cream of Mushroom soup each year just to people making Green Bean Casserole. (Not sure how they determine that number). And that that 30% of all US households are likely making the casserole for their holiday feast.

The recipe, reportedly created for an Associated Press feature, was developed by a Campbell’s team led by Dorcas Reilly, a staff member in the Home Economics department. An archived page on the Campbell’s site states that:

“…the inspiration for the Green Bean Casserole was to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most Americans always had on hand in the 1950s: green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Like all great recipes, the casserole requires minimal number of ingredients (just five), doesn’t take much time, and can be customized to fit a wide range of tastes.”

It also states that in 2002, Mrs. Reilly presented the original copy of the recipe to the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame. And that the “now-yellowed 8 x 11 recipe card takes its place alongside Enrico Fermi’s invention of the first controlled nuclear reactor and Thomas Alva Edison’s two greatest hits: the light bulb and the phonograph.”

You can find the classic recipe here from Campbell’s kitchen. Or likely on the back of any can of Cream of Mushroom soup.

And, though purists will balk, here is an updated version from The Pioneer Woman blogger Ree Drummond.

Happy Thanksgiving! Save travels and happy feasting.