Obituaries

Dorcas Reilly, who created the green bean casserole, dies at 92

Campbell Soup officials said Ms. Reilly was the driving force behind the green bean casserole.
Associated Press/File 2005
Campbell Soup officials said Ms. Reilly was the driving force behind the green bean casserole.

HADDONFIELD, N.J. — Dorcas Reilly, who was credited with creating a Thanksgiving staple enjoyed by millions, the green bean casserole, died Oct. 15. She was 92.

The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, said Ken Tomlinson of the Hinski-Tomlinson Funeral Home in Haddonfield.

Campbell Soup officials said the New Jersey resident was the driving force behind the popular dish, made with green beans and cream of mushroom soup and topped with crunchy fried onions. The company said it is the most popular recipe ever to come out of its corporate kitchen. The recipe’s website got 2.7 million visits during last year’s holidays, the company said.

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The original recipe card was donated to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002.

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‘‘Dorcas was an incredible woman, whose legacy will live on for years to come. She will be missed by her Campbell colleagues and all those who were impacted by her creativity and generous spirit,’’ the company said in a statement.

Ms. Reilly was a Campbell Soup kitchen supervisor in 1955 when she combined the ingredients of the now-legendary casserole for an Associated Press feature.

In a 2005 interview marking the recipe’s 50th anniversary, Ms. Reilly said she didn’t remember having a hand in it because the dish was among hundreds that were created during her time at Campbell’s. She also helped create a tomato soup meatloaf, a tuna noodle casserole, and sloppy Joe-like ‘‘souperburgers.’’

The green bean recipe is still a fixture on soup-can labels and television commercials. And Ms. Reilly said she always kept the ingredients for the casserole on hand in her home — just in case someone asked her to whip one up.

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She also noted that whenever the company held recipe contests, she would typically see ‘‘homemade’’ variations of the soup-can recipe for the casserole.

‘‘It would be Aunt Suzy’s or Grandma’s,’’ she said.

Campbell’s officials have said consumers often tell them practically anyone — even novices or bad cooks — can make a green bean casserole because it’s so easy to prepare.

Ms. Reilly worked for Campbell’s on and off between the late 1940s and 1988, when she retired as manager of the Campbell’s kitchen.

She leaves her husband of 59 years, Thomas, a son, and a daughter.