Alpha Sigma Alpha National Headquarters, Indianapolis – Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority is saddened to announce the death October 23, 2018, of Dorcas Bates Reilly, NN. Dorcas was a past recipient (2008) of Alpha Sigma Alpha’s most distinguished award, the Recognition of Eminence Award.
Regarded as the “mother of comfort food,” Dorcas led the team that created the Green Bean Casserole in 1955 while working as a staff member in the Home Economics department of the Campbell Soup Company. Dorcas grew up in Camden, NJ, and in 1944 became a member of the Nu Nu Chapter at Drexel University, PA, where she received her bachelor’s degree in home economics.
She began her career at Campbell Soup Company in 1949, where she was one of two full-time staff members in the department. During her time in the Campbell’s kitchen, she also had a hand in the creation of hundreds of dishes, some of them are tomato soup meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole and Sloppy Joe-like “souperburgers.” But she is still best known today as the “Grandmother” of the Green Bean Casserole.
Dorcas shared 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 a minimal number of ingredients (just five), takes little time, and can be customized to fit a wide range of tastes.
In 2002, Dorcas appeared at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, OH, to donate the original copy of the recipe to the museum. 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.
The obituary for Dorcas can be found here. Read more about Dorcas in the Phoenix.