Woman Who Invented Famous Green Bean Casserole Dies at 92
Campbell's says it was the most popular dish their kitchen ever produced.
Dorcas Reilly, the woman who blessed us with the iconic green bean casserole, has died at the age of 92. According to the Associated Press, she died on October 15 of Alzheimer's disease, near her home in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
Reilly reportedly came up with the recipe (key ingredients: cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, French's fried onions) while working as a Campbell's Soup kitchen supervisor in 1955, where she also had a hand in inventing dishes like a tomato soup meatloaf, a tuna noodle casserole, and something called "soupburgers," which sound Sloppy Joe-adjacent. The History Channel reports that while Campbell’s cream of mushroom variety had been around since 1934—it was widely used as a Midwest casserole filler, "popping up in enough Minnesotan hotdish recipes that it was sometimes referred to as 'Lutheran binder'"—Reilly was the first to pair it with frozen green beans. Nowadays, about 40 percent of all Campbell's cream of mushroom soup sold in the U.S. goes into making this Thanksgiving favorite.
“Dorcas was an incredible woman, whose legacy will live on for years to come," the company said in a statement. "She will be missed by her Campbell colleagues and all those who were impacted by her creativity and generous spirit.”
With great, soup-based recipes comes great responsibility—a sentiment that Reilly clearly understood. Her home kitchen was always stocked with all six of the ingredients in her signature dish, just in case a visitor asked her to whip it up (an act that, according to the Campbell's website, takes about ten minutes).
The fact that it's so easy to assemble may be one of the key reasons why Reilly's creation remains Campbell's most popular recipe. (The other, more obvious reason: who doesn't love a casserole?) In fact, over 2.7 million people visited the recipe's website during last year's holiday season.