The Inventor of the Green Bean Casserole Dies at 92 and Her Life Was Fascinating

Dorcas Reilly's recipe has been on Thanksgiving tables for decades.

November 02, 2018
By: Amanda Mushro

On your list of things you are thankful for this Thanksgiving season, be sure to include the Thanksgiving staple--the green bean casserole and its creator Dorcas Reilly.

Reilly is credited with creating hundreds of recipes, but her most famous is the yummy side dish that is comprised of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and don't forget the best part---the crunchy fried onions on top. According to her family, the 92-year-old passed away of Alzheimer's disease on October 15 in Camden, New Jersey.

In 1955 she was working as a Campbell Soup kitchen supervisor when she whipped up a casserole recipe that even a kitchen novice could master. However, Reilly didn't even remember making the now famous dish. It wasn't until 2005 when she was interviewed for a story for the AP News about the green bean casserole's 50th anniversary that she was reminded that without her recipe-making-genius, the dish wouldn't exist. According to Reilly, she had created hundreds of recipes during her time at Campbell's--like a tomato soup meatloaf, a tuna noodle casserole and Sloppy Joe-like "souperburgers." However, the people at Campbell's say her dish is their most famous recipe ever.

"She took a lot of pride in it," her husband told the New York Times following her death. "She was delighted when anybody said they liked it, and most everybody liked it."

She continued to work at Campbell's Home Economics Department and decided to leave in 1961 to be a stay-at-home mom. In 1981 she returned to Campbell's, and retired as manager of Campbell's kitchen in 1988.

Reilly told the AP she was always pleased to hear that families were making and adapting the recipe to feel like their own. She noted, the original name of the dish was, "green bean bake," and she said she always had the ingredients for it on-hand in case guests requested it

According to Campbell's, the green bean casserole will be served in 20 million American households this Thanksgiving. So before you and your family dig into this dish on Thanksgiving, remember its creator Reilly and how she changed Thanksgiving tables forever.

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