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Please explain this green bean casserole thing

I just don't get it. Ok, so my parents were Hungarian so this particular dish never appeared on our table - thanksgiving or otherwise. And then I moved to Canada, where green bean casserole is NOT a thing for Thanksgiving. So I absolutely don't understand the history and custom that has led to this casserole being an inescapable ritual for American Thanksgiving. How did it happen? Is it a Campbell's conspiracy?

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    1. re: ferret

      Yeah I suspected as much but why has it become a Thanksgiving icon? I understand that terrible things get invented by food companies, but they don't usually rise to the elevated status that this seems to hold. I find it baffling.

      1. re: Nyleve

        It's easy to make with all the manufactured food products thrown together into a big goop.

      2. re: ferret

        OK, so it was a little before the '70's. That's when I came of age, but as a child we never had it so I wasn't aware of it until then.


        1. re: ferret

          This is from an era when companies promoted their products with recipes on the package, recipe fliers, and in women's magazines.

          These days it's a vehicle for selling the Fried Onions

          It became popular in an era when canned vegetables where widely used. Even now, I am more likely to use frozen green beans than fresh ones. But this casserole just isn't the same thing without the softer canned beans (though frozen frenched will work). You don't get the same homogeneous mass with crisp cooked whole green beans.

          1. As a Hungarian-Canadian, I am totally flummoxed and disgusted by this dish. We had vegetables thickened with roux (fozelek), made from scratch growing up. I think the dish was born in the "convenience era" when canned goods became popular and soups were a novelty... Yuck!!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodslut

              Fozelek! Yes! This green bean thing seems to be the bastard child of fozelek and kraft dinner.

            2. I don't either. I even tried making it from scratch with fresh everything and its still yucky.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Chefpaulo

                Well, making it fresh or gourmet style misses the point.

                The point is a liminal sense memory, a Proustian moment. To gourmandize it is culinarily tone-deaf.

                Most cultures have dishes that are underwhelming, objectively, but beloved because of liminal sense memory. Poutine? Poi? Et cet.

                1. re: Karl S

                  In our neighborhood, Frito Pie would fall into that category, as Bourdain recently observed.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    You are correct, Karl. I forgot the subtle contributory infusion of the venerable tin can. A can of green beans, a can of mushroom soup and a can of fried onion squiggles all meld into what its creator meant to become an American mainstay, albeit every-so-slightly tin-tainted to be a remembrance of things fortunately past. But poi? I'd rather eat library paste.

                    1. re: Chefpaulo

                      In my family, we never used tinned beans, only frozen, for example. So that's MY sense memory reference point.

                      1. re: Chefpaulo

                        Library paste would prolly be less caloric, but the aftertaste really ..... sticks to ya, 'tho.

                  2. Yes. I remember exactly when it happened in the 1970's. It was a marketing campaign for Campbell's Cream of Mushroom (I think) soup. My MIL thought it was the greatest thing ever invented.

                    I find it disgusting, Especially the crispy onions on top. It never graces our Thanksgiving table.

                    1. Perhaps it is a regional thing. I live in central California. Nobody I know makes this dish for Thanksgiving or any other day. I read about it being an essential Tday dish, but have never tasted it nor seen it served.

                      9 Replies
                        1. re: sandiasingh

                          So maybe not so common in New York, where I grew up?

                          1. re: Nyleve

                            It was very common in the NY suburbs in the 60s--along with that ubiquitous sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows.

                            Another one, almost as bad--string beans "amandine" with frozen string beans and sliced almonds.

                            We were very fancy as far as soup went--sneered at Campbells but stocked up on Progesso.

                            1. re: erica

                              Hmmm. So I'm going to blame my ignorance on the Hungarians.

                            2. re: Nyleve

                              I can't speak to NY specifically but certainly there were families throughout the mid-Atlantic states who consumed it.

                              Growing it up in Baltimore, I can recall that my mother made it a few times, but it never became a fixture on our table (thank goodness).

                              A few years ago we celebrated T-giving with family on my husband's side who had it on their table, I believe because it was traditional on the wife's side; she grew up in NJ.

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                I have a couple dozen community/church cookbooks from Ontario and Saskatchewan published in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and a few community cookbooks and Junior League cookbooks from Georgia, Louisiana and Texas (published in the 80s and 90).A variation of the green bean casserole shows up in most of them. I've also seen the recipe in Best of Bridge and Company's Coming bookis. A lot of casseroles common in the Midwest seem to be common in the Prairie provinces.
                                Another dish I've seen at Thanksgiving in AB are Schultz's potatoes/funeral potatoes (frozen hash browns/tater tots, sour cream, cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese).

                              2. re: sandiasingh

                                Maybe a regional thing? I grew p in New England in the 60's- and we never had it on the table. As a matter of fact, I have never tasted it- or even seen it!

                              3. re: jmnewel

                                Me too. Never seen, nor eaten, GBC at any TG dinners I've been to. I've had versions of greenbean SALADs (with almond slivers or walnuts, and red onion) at TG, Christmas and Easter dinners, but I believe that's a whole different dish:


                                1. re: jmnewel

                                  NorCal here and I've never seen it here. If it's a tradition then it's a bad one and people should consider giving it the heave ho.

                                2. I admit I love the stuff! Our Thanksgiving dinner had almost no "must have" dishes other than mashed potatoes (because my dad has a serious jones for mashed potatoes), so things kind of came in rotation from year to year. Every three or four years, we'd have the green bean casserole, and I'd scarf as much as I could. I would usually have at least three helpings. Yum.

                                  1. It has mystified me too. It was never served in my parents home and not in my own home. More like to be Brussels Sprouts pan browned with shallots and bacon.

                                    I think my sister's ex husband ask for it once. She was clueless and not much of a cook either. I don't think she was ever asked to make it again.

                                    1. It just happens to be the trifecta of thanksgiving dishes. Vegetable (ish), requires only a pyrex and a can opener, it's freakin awesome.

                                      More for me. :)

                                      1. I always figured it was something you had to grow up with. I am 1st generation American and never saw green bean casserole live and in person until I was a 24 year old eating Thanksgiving dinner with my boyfriend's (now husband) family. It tasted exactly as I imagined it would: salty and gloppy. I didn't grow up with Cream of ___ casseroles, so that whole category of foods really has no special place in my heart. However, I don't begrudge others for loving it. I am well aware I grew up with many a dish that would have a good portion of the US population sneering at my plate!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: mels

                                          Same here. I'm sure I didn't hear of it till at least college. My mom had her own green bean preparation that we all loved - it didn't occur to me there could be other ways!

                                          1. re: mels

                                            I ate it as a child in the South. But I grew up and so did my taste. Blech.

                                          2. So just out of curiosity - how many of you would have this at any other time of the year besides thanksgiving?

                                            9 Replies
                                              1. re: Nyleve

                                                We do.

                                                We keep canned goods on hand in the earthquake kit, which is kept in the back yard in sealed Rubbermaid cans (away from the house in case of a collapse). Rotating out the contents every 3 or so months is prudent. (The 'kit' also includes bottled water, dog and cat food, sleeping bags, toilet paper, flashlights, batteries, a solar radio and a regular can opener as well as camping pots, pans and utensils. There are also two propane tanks-one in use that gets filled s soon as it is empty).

                                                I buy canned items on sale, plan on having to eat without heating or adding water. Canned soup+vegetable+crunchy (+protein) is a meal base or fancy side.

                                                1. re: Nyleve

                                                  For many, it's a link to times past and a chance to live a part of old memories again. Suitable concepts for Thanksgiving, although I have never had the dish on turkey day.
                                                  I used to bring a half dozen cans of the onions when I visited my American ladyfriend in Mexico - she couldn't buy them there. It helped her reconnect with good memories at any time of the year. She sometimes missed America, a little, and this helped. And she was a good cook with children and grandchildren stateside.

                                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                                    I would, but I think I'm the only one in the house who would eat it, so I'd have to be prepared to eat the entire batch. Not that I'm averse to that, of course…I'd just have to be in the mood for it.

                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                      RP, keep the Tupperware nearby. As my maternal grandmother used to say, "Tomorrow is another day."
                                                      Reheated GBC, with 2 over easy and rye toast....

                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                        I have no problems with leftovers, but I'm afraid that a full batch takes what, something like 3 cans of green beans? That's probably four days! What the hell…maybe I'll give it a try this year.

                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                          The hell part will begin on day 3.

                                                        2. re: Veggo

                                                          I enjoy it with some leftover Thanksgiving rolls... you know, to add nutrition and all... ;-)

                                                      2. re: Nyleve

                                                        I enjoy making another time post-Thanksgiving, maybe even twice. I can't really wrap my head around why I love it so much. A lot of people are citing nostalgia as a factor, and I can't even use that excuse- I didn't try it til I was in my 20's hahaha. Oh well. If it tastes good, eat it!

                                                      3. I have made it with french cut green beans, a good amount of bacon & onion with a healthy coating of the breaded/fried onions on top and it wasn't bad. Not something I get a craving for though.

                                                        1. Green Bean Casserole.
                                                          All of the ingredients are okay separately.
                                                          Put them together and you have a weapon of mass destruction. ;-)

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: Antilope

                                                            Do you have irrefutable intelligence and physical evidence that it is being prepared for deployment ?? ;-)

                                                            1. re: LotusRapper

                                                              It's already camo. You don't have to eat it, just smear it.

                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                I think it's more of a psychological weapon. Most victims see it and are resigned to their fate. Some may attempt to get away, but Granny, Mom or Auntie will make sure it's delivered to all targets.

                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                  Sort of like Christmas fruit cakes ?

                                                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                    Those are more like UXB's with candied shrapnel.

                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                      LOL ! Or an IED. If you get re-gifted with a XFC (Xmas Fruit Cake) you are SOL !

                                                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                        That's what I call a scud missile from FedEx.
                                                                        Sign here, please....

                                                                    2. re: LotusRapper

                                                                      Now hold it right there. I make a killer Tequila Lime Fruitcake that is in high demand from late October thru Christmas.

                                                                      1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                        You'll just have to FedEx some samples to us 'Hounders so we can vouch for your claim (not that we'd doubt you) :-)

                                                                        All in the name of home gastronomic research .....

                                                                        1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                          In fairness to the widely disparaged fruitcake, www.bienfaitcakes.com
                                                                          in Vermont makes amazing products, with love, and profits go to charities.

                                                                      2. re: Antilope

                                                                        A little Dido background music..... White Flag....

                                                                2. The horror! This dish never crossed my path until I was well in my 30s. It graced the table of some transplanted Pennsylvanians we dined with one year. I found it both repulsive and fascinating (not fascinating enough to actually taste). We had delicious and fresh foods at Thanksgiving, the exception being canned cranberry sauce sliced in rings. I associate Thanksgiving with food lovingly slaved over, not quickly thrown together out of obligation. Every family is different. No remorse for having missed out on this particular treasure, though we had our share of prepared food horrors at other times of the year.

                                                                  1. Sigh. For some of us it is a tradition. Try this version if you are curious and ambitious. It will change your mind.


                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                    1. re: CDouglas

                                                                      I am making this recipe this year.

                                                                      and for the New England regional folk who say nay, our entire street in the North Shore of MA cranked the original 'recipe' our every Thanksgiving from the mid 60's on. It was not good. But it was tradition.

                                                                      1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                        heh - as a challenge, short of using only the base ingredients truly rancid, how could one make it worse?!

                                                                        and I LIKE the dish.

                                                                        well not every day or anything.

                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                          One could add cheese to it. My, sigh, dear mother did one year. We pelted her with balled-up cranberry bread pieces in retaliation.

                                                                          1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                            hmm what kind of cheese? I could see something really mild like a queso fresco or ricotta maybe.

                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                              Cream cheese...or Velveeta might be appropriate too!

                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                Good old American Kraft Processed Cheese Slices, triangled and lying half melted just underneath the FF onions. What we refer to as 'cheese food' around here. It was awful. I guess Velveeta might be an improvement, but I dunno. Maybe. We're omitting it this year.

                                                                                1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                  uggh sorry - no. please excise my comment about ricotta or queso fresco. I still love all of you, but Velveeta and American really only belong in a toasted sandwich or Ro-Tel dip.

                                                                                  just leave the cheese out of the GBC (ok maybe a few, very few sprinkles of crumbled bleu)

                                                                          2. re: nikkihwood

                                                                            Interesting! AS I mentioned earlier, my Grandmother and Mother did not serve it, so I never had it. I host Thanksgiving every year for my extended family, and so far, no one has asked that it be added to the menu. I will ask everyone this year if they had this growing up!

                                                                            1. re: macca

                                                                              or just add it, it's easy as sh*t, largely why it's ubiquitous. either you'll be further obliged or quietly begged to knock it off in the future.

                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                That's what I did, I kept hearing stories here so I made it one year not long ago, just for fun. I did use frozen hericot vert and extra mushrooms among other things, but my BIL is now addicted to it.

                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                  I was planning to just make it this year for fun since I've never had it.

                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                    To tell the truth, I just wanted to see what it was myself. Hey, you never know! I do tend towards rich vegetable dishes, so it has officially joined the rotation.

                                                                        2. Anyone have a good recipe for
                                                                          gratin de haricots verts aux champignons ?

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            The interwebs do :-)



                                                                            Ingredients for a large baking dish (3/4):
                                                                            - 2 large cans of green beans 440g
                                                                            - 1 box from Paris mushrooms
                                                                            - 2 tablespoons flour
                                                                            - 250 ml chicken / poultry or water
                                                                            - 2 tablespoons cream fresh thick
                                                                            - 1 large onion
                                                                            - 2 slices of ham (optional)
                                                                            - grated Gruyère
                                                                            - Herbes de Provence (optional)
                                                                            - salt and pepper
                                                                            In a skillet, fry the chopped onion coarsely in a little olive oil.
                                                                            When it starts to brown, add the drained mushrooms and brown for 5 minutes, stirring.
                                                                            Deglaze with a ladle of chicken broth (or water if you do not have broth). Let the broth evaporate a few minutes (it's faster).
                                                                            Add the flour and stir to coat the mushrooms and onions with it. Add remaining broth and mix. The sauce will thicken. Add salt and pepper and add a little bit of herbs if you have.
                                                                            Add the cream. Stir.
                                                                            In the baking dish, place the drained green beans. You can then add the ham cut into pieces (ham was not in the original recipe, it is I who added, so this recipe can very well do without wink).
                                                                            finally Pour mushroom sauce . Sprinkle with grated cheese.
                                                                            Bake, thermostat 7 for about 20 minutes.

                                                                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                                How would you add the crisp fried onions - in French?

                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  "ajouter les oignons frits croustillants"

                                                                              2. I always ate some, never hated it, but a Martha Stewart recipe caused me to make my own. I used young fresh green beans from Costco and steamed them to crisp-almost-tender, sliced and sauteed a bunch of mushrooms, (here I cheated) used a jar of alfredo sauce, mixed it with the mushrooms along with my secret herbs and spices, poured it over the green beans, baked it awhile,put some fried shallots on top, and finished it off. It was fabulous, to me, at least.
                                                                                I think there;s a groundswell hatred for anything from the 1950s, mostly understandably. But don't go all hipster and turn your nose up at the whole era, or you run the risk of looking like a dilettante dork.

                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                  But, hey, you didn't cook that 50s version. So who's going all hipster? :) J/K

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Ouch. No, I was looking for a better-tasting version. Honest.

                                                                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                      And you did! No joke. That was my point. Sorry if my feeble attempt at humor failed :)

                                                                                  2. re: EWSflash

                                                                                    The 50's gave us Mickey D's, Barbie Dolls, credit cards, Hula Hoops, diet soft drinks and China was a country south of Mongolia.
                                                                                    60 years later the Chinese are running circles around the US. My, how things change.

                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                      I thank God that I had a son, and not a daughter that would demand Barbie dolls. I don't drink sodas hardly ever, but I'm grateful for the diet kind that doesn't leave me thirstier and with a bad mouth feeling. So there. I liked Tab, for God's sake- not a sugar soda fan, ever.
                                                                                      My first preference is unsweetened iced tea. Where did that come from?

                                                                                    2. growing up with immigrant parents that assimilated as best as could be expected while still holding onto their heritage, Thanksgiving was as traditional American as many would expect, yet, sans green bean casserole and cranberry sauce for that matter.
                                                                                      after I married, we hosted most holidays, and I made a fresh version of the recipe using fresh string beans/haricot vert, fresh mushrooms, etc. as we never really did canned food much. after that Thanksgiving always has the Campbell's recipe for green bean casserole and either canned jellied cranberry sauce or a homemade version. Depending on who the additional guests are beyond the grandparents and other in-laws, the green bean casserole could be a hit or there could be leftovers. The cranberry sauce is rarely ever touched, no matter the version.

                                                                                      1. I've never had it, parent never served it but is it really sooo bad?

                                                                                        1. grow up with it and it's beloved (or hated and re-invented) if you didn't, well then it's just one of those things.

                                                                                          don't sweat it. at some of our tables (sad to say) it was the only thing edible served.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                            I didn't grow up with it, and I don't mind it. I'd take green bean casserole over meatloaf, shephard's pie or frozen lasagna.

                                                                                            Always intriguing to see many Chowhounds will put energy into knocking something they haven't even tried once. And how many Chowhounds seem to pride themselves on not eating Food X!

                                                                                            1. re: prima

                                                                                              I live Velveeta toasted cheese sandwiches and Kraft Macaroni.
                                                                                              I like Hostess snowballs and Ding Dongs. Marshmallow Fluff from a jar is good. But I don't like Green Bean Casserole. I like canned green beans, canned fried onions, I use mushroom soup in some recipes. Put them all together and it's a yuk to me.

                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                I feel the same way. There's plenty of crap I do eat. I don't understand why I don't like the green bean casserole. Even scratch versions. I like all the ingredients separately. I mean, at heart it's green beans in a creamy mushroom sauce, right? I didn't even try it till a few years ago and fully expected to enjoy it. No idea why it just didn't fly.

                                                                                                I suppose it's like many things that have to do with taste. We can never know what something tastes like to another person. I hate cilantro, love mango. I knew someone who was the opposite. She cringed as I made mimosas with mango nectar and I had to look away as she piled cilantro on her tacos.

                                                                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                  I think it must be the white sauce on green beans that doesn't appeal to me, either canned cream of mushrooms or homemade white sauce.

                                                                                                  I like green beans and garlic. The green beans and toasted onions sound good. I also like mushrooms. But not with the white sauce.

                                                                                                  But I like white sauce. Love sausage gravy on biscuits.

                                                                                                  It must just be the combination of green beans and white sauce I don't like.

                                                                                          2. My parents never served this slop. Although I've always enjoyed snacking on those canned fried onions, I made it into my late fifties without ever tasting this abomination. It always sounded like a bad idea. A few years ago, they were sampling it at Costco, so I thought to myself, "what the heck" and had a taste. Big mistake -- it was far worse than I ever could have imagined. Super-salty, nasty glop. I actually had to spit in into a napkin.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Steve Green

                                                                                              I love the fried onions too! I have never had the casserole and thus never had fried onions. I tried them recently when they were mentioned as a seasonal item and they are very tasty

                                                                                            2. I didn't intend to have this devolve into a big negative pile-on. Although, I suppose I could have forseen that it might go that way. My question was out of sincere bafflement. Usually holiday foods have some historic or legendary connection to the event. But this one seems to have sprung up out of nowhere and has, to my mind, no seasonal link, nothing to do with the Mayflower or Pilgrims or anything. I admit I have never tasted it. But I would, if it were offered. I don't want to make it but there are a lot of things I don't want to make.

                                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                Yea your original question is still quite interesting. I guess since many of the foods were not served at the original celebration, where did they come from? We need a new class in high school "where do Thanksgiving foods come from?"

                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                  It could just as easily have been a question about the canned cranberry jelly that is served still can shaped. Which I do and always, inexplicably, look forward to slicing along the ridge lines. A horror to from scratch purists!

                                                                                                  1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                    Exactly right. While neither traces its roots to the pilgrims, both were commonly served on Thanksgiving tables in many households starting in the mid-20th Century. And, if that is what you grew up with, it's part of your traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It's not unlike whether you serve cornbread or oyster dressing, collard greens, sauerkraut (a Baltimore tradition), pasta (as many of my Italian American friends do), etc on Thanksgiving Day.

                                                                                                    1. re: masha

                                                                                                      Our local paper just had a pictorial on favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and I swear half of them had some kind of upscale Asian/Thai twist. I must be getting old, way too fancy for me!

                                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                                        Its part of what I like about Thanksgiving -- how wave after wave of immigrants has come to the US and made it their own, adding ethnic touches to the basic menu. (Sauerkraut as part of the traditional Baltimore T-day menu traces it's history to the large segment of German immigrants.)

                                                                                                        1. re: masha

                                                                                                          I know, but these seemed more show off-y kinds of dishes, that you'd find in an upscale restaurant. To me, it should be more like what you'd eat at Grandmas. But I realize a lot of Thanksgiving menus are swinging to this trend, at least from what I see here, so to each his own.

                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                            But as masha points out "Grandma" can be way, way different than 50 years ago.

                                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                                Well, I'm 66 and my little grandchildren (just two y.o.) are already eating different things than my grandmothers fed me. And that's not even taking into consideration the aforementioned immigrants who have brought so much great new stuff to this country.

                                                                                                        2. re: masha

                                                                                                          It kills me not to serve a pasta course this year because my family is not coming. My in laws wouldn't understand and would think it is too much food.

                                                                                                    2. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                      I think it is an excellent question and even though I am American born and raised, it's a valid question for me too. As pointed out in earlier posts, it is the brainchild of a Campbell's Soup employee who, during the onset of convenience foods in the 1950's, got lucky. When I first tasted it in the 1970's (made by my MIL), I hated it and have always hated it. There is no connection to the Pilgrims or Native Americans. It's a marketing stunt that fed into the "fast and easy" convenience food crowd that was burgeoning at that time and for some reason it stuck.

                                                                                                      1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                        But that fast and easy approach to cooking, post WW II was something many bought into. In all the years my mother and MIL made T-giving dinner, I don't believe either ever made from-scratch pies. It was always Sara Lee or Mrs Smith, or maybe Bakers Square. Now that the cooking is by the next generation, the pies are homemade.

                                                                                                        1. re: masha

                                                                                                          I'm reading "Appetite for Life," the bio of Julia Child and even she considered using some canned soup and frozen foods in some of her testing recipes for "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." She and Paul returned to the US from their overseas diplomatic work in the early '50's and a food revolution was taking place with all of the new convenience foods while at the same time women were relieved of their WWII jobs and back at home.

                                                                                                          1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                            Until the jet age, starting in the 1960's, you didn't have fresh produce at all times of the year. I remember when my grandmother was thrilled that they actually had fresh strawberries in January at a Los Angeles supermarket in the mid-1960's. Off season food could be flown in from south of the equator.

                                                                                                            It wasn't until after World War II that home fridges had a freezer section that would hold more than an ice cube tray and a box of frozen peas. Fridges before that had a freezer section of about 1 square foot. They would barely freeze water and certainly weren't at 0-F like modern freezers. You couldn't store anything for very long without freezer burn.

                                                                                                            So most off season food was canned or dried with a small amount frozen.

                                                                                                    3. Nyleve, your sincere question caused me to ponder this for a day. I am solidly in the "No, thank you, we never had this dish while growing up" camp but .......
                                                                                                      There may be solid appeal to the overworked, busy-with-last-minute slicing/gravy-making hostess who can assemble the GBC ahead of time and merely heat it. With everything else to remember, there is a lot to be said for not having to worry about the asparagus overcooking or the Brussels sprouts scorching; remember, we need something green on the plate. GBC it will always taste the same from year to year, another 'plus' for some traditionalists.

                                                                                                      As a food historian, I can tell you that the meal we Americans eat on the fourth Thursday in November is not what our pilgrim forefathers/mothers ate to celebrate their survival.

                                                                                                      Good question. Thanks for making us think.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                        Thanks for that reply. It's funny, Canadian thanksgiving seems to be more a harvest feast than anything else. Given the timing - early October - it makes sense to serve all the foods of the season. My thanksgiving dinner varies NOT ONE BIT from year to year. I am not allowed to make any changes - so I do get the need to have ritualistic foods on the table. But, besides the ubiquitous stuffed turkey, we have red cabbage with apples, butternut or Hubbard squash, homemade cranberry sauce, pumpkin and apple pie. One year I switched the squash with sweet potatoes and there was outrage. But this year I changed the mashed squash to roasted and everyone approved - at least it was still squash. No pilgrims or mayflower lore up here - but also less commercialism and, for what it's worth, I like the timing better. I guess I started wondering about the green bean casserole because no one, absolutely no one that I know serves it on Thanksgiving. And it's not because they're all rabid scratch cooks - it's just because it's not a thing. But then again, many of them serve jello salads - a comparable travesty. But I'm not judging. To each his own travesty.

                                                                                                        1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                          I would prefer the Canadian date for T-day (it's too close to X-mas down here in the US) but then the retailers would start in on the relentless holiday merchandising that much sooner (and that started before Halloween this year)

                                                                                                        2. re: Sherri

                                                                                                          And I wonder why with this carb-bomb of a meal why anyone thinks a green vegetable is anything other than lip service :)

                                                                                                        3. Well, I come from a GBC loving family. I just had some at my parent's house last week, a request from my brother for his Birthday. I won't say it's my favorite, but I like it well, enough. Those fried onions definitely make it, though.

                                                                                                          I will also note that my Mom makes almost everything from scratch. She's by no means a mostly "boxed" cook, but this convenience dish is just something my family likes.

                                                                                                          1. MY take: it's not something that was ever a'thing' in my house growing up (my parents were also Hungarian, so we always had far more interesting things in our T-Day feast), but I have had this casserole dish at friends' houses (especially during my college days in the midwest) and I don't find it nearly as offensive as seems to be fashionable. As someone who is accustomed to eating green beans either raw or lightly steamed, I think the texture _is_ usually something of a mess...but the flavors are actually rather nice. And I did love the crispy onion topping (now that I think of it, maybe I liked that best. LOL).

                                                                                                            In any case, I think that if it were made with some finesse, perhaps with fresh beans and less canned, boxed, and processed stuff, it could be better.

                                                                                                            So in the end, I put this dish with other foods that have become fodder for food snobs (and food weenies as well) to denigrate-- such as: fruitcake (which can be AMAZING if done the traditional way); Jell-O; Headcheese (bizarrely, actually a very distant cousin to Jell-O); Bologna (don't even get me started...really good bologna can be absolutely sublime in a sandwich); and countless other currently dis-respected foods.

                                                                                                            In it's own "bizarro world" way, the green bean casserole is actually a _classic_ of sorts, albeit out of a seemingly distant place in time. The war and post-war years certainly did feature their share of the introduction of some sometimes ususual recipes.

                                                                                                            I generally like my veggies more straightforward but honestly, although it's been a LONG time since I had it placed in front of me, I can actually eat a well made GB casserole...and actually enjoy it even if it isn't something I'd ever take the effort to make myself.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                              I think it's a bastardized French dish. once in Paris I was served haricot vert prepared with minced pate de fois gras and a mushroom sauce made with a veal demi-glace.

                                                                                                              sure it was better, even great, but it wasn't mom's.

                                                                                                            2. I have contemplated the responses to this thread and devised a hypothesis that follows the doctrine of relative performance, thusly:
                                                                                                              GBC on your plate serves a useful purpose in that it makes everything else on your plate taste better.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                It does a nice job of covering dry over cooked turkey.

                                                                                                              2. The problem with this dish is that it doesn't taste better when you try to use natural and healthy ingredients. You either have to like the somewhat-processed taste of canned green beans with Campbells's soup, or make something else altogether.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                  Thanks for saying that. I've only had the "original recipe."

                                                                                                                  1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                    Totally agree. I tried making it fancy schmancy many years ago and still didn't like it. It's just a bad combination IMHO.

                                                                                                                  2. I never cared for the cr of mushroom soup version. Mine calls for canned green beans, cream of celery soup, shredded cheddar and a little butter. Topped with ff onions. The crowd goes wild.

                                                                                                                    1. Green Bean Casserole isn't the only Thanksgiving horror. Some family members always insist on bringing other dishes. They will make sure everyone tries some.
                                                                                                                      My wife's elderly aunt would always bring a Broccoli & Cheese Casserole covered with a sauce made from Kraft Day-Glo Orange Powdered Cheese that she usually saved from Kraft Mac & Cheese boxes.
                                                                                                                      If she didn't bring the Broccoli & Cheese Casserole she would bring Strawberry Pretzel Salad (a layer of crushed pretzels with a layer of cream cheese in the middle and strawberry Jello on top).

                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                        "My wife's elderly aunt would always bring a Broccoli Cheese Casserole covered with Kraft Day-Glo Orange Powdered Cheese that she usually saved from Kraft Mac & Cheese boxes."

                                                                                                                        Believe it or not, those day-glow days are numbered ....


                                                                                                                        1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                                                                          Probably also the days of the elderly aunt.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                          "Strawberry Pretzel Salad"

                                                                                                                          oh please say you made that up and if not, then my daughter is named Antigone and I'm busy digging my eyes out. "Mama!"

                                                                                                                          please say you were being silly. please,

                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                            Strawberry Pretzel Salad, 5 stars on Food Network website, 5 stars on the Kraft website, etc. etc.
                                                                                                                            Paula Deen's Strawberry Pretzel Salad
                                                                                                                            Strawberry Pretzel Squares
                                                                                                                            The aunt made this recipe in the 1980's before Paula Deen was famous.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                              Oh c'mon, Hill Food. Our KC Thanksgivings always had a variety of jello salads made by Aunts. No pretzels as ours always seemed to have marshmallows floating in suspension.

                                                                                                                              I wish I could relive those long gone days now. :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                BBQ, I'm with you. If we could have departed family members at our Thanksgiving table, I'd happily serve every 1960s style food monstrosity in exchange.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                              My husband has been nuts for broccoli and (velveeta) cheese with Ritz crackers on top, ever since a co-worker in the 1970s gave me her recipe. His family too considers it a new heirloom (although I'm not making it this year, due to the price of broccoli). Since DH is not much of a vegetable lover, I am happy to make it just so he has something healthy, no matter how hidden it is.

                                                                                                                            3. A bakers dozen of GBC variations

                                                                                                                              Since I have a package of TJ puff pastry in the freezer, maybe I should try the GB tart

                                                                                                                              1. Green Bean Casseroles from the early 1950's
                                                                                                                                used canned condensed Cream of Celery Soup, canned Tuna
                                                                                                                                and American Cheese. Links to recipes in old newspapers.
                                                                                                                                Green Bean Casserole - St. Joseph News-Press - Feb 26, 1951
                                                                                                                                Green Bean Casserole - Eugene Register-Guard - Apr 29, 1954
                                                                                                                                The oldest classic green bean casserole in an old newspaper that I've been able to find is 1955 (served to the visiting Queen Soraya of Iran. Now you know why they hate us. ;-
                                                                                                                                Green Bean Casserole (classic recipe) - Herald-Journal - Apr 22, 1955
                                                                                                                                Green Bean Casserole (classic recipe) - Ocala Star-Banner - Sep 16, 1962
                                                                                                                                Green Bean Casserole with blue cheese and bacon - Sarasota Journal - Aug 12, 1963
                                                                                                                                Green Bean Casserole (classic recipe) - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Oct 17, 1968

                                                                                                                                1. had a potluck thanksgiving a few years back.. the only person who ate the green bean thing was….the person who brought it. glad she was happy.

                                                                                                                                  1. In 1955 a Green Bean Casserole served to Queen Soraya of Iran, who was visiting the U.S.
                                                                                                                                    Now you know why they hate us. ;-).
                                                                                                                                    "American Homemaker Serves Beans To Queen",
                                                                                                                                    Herald-Journal newspaper - Apr 22, 1955

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                      "Now you know why they hate us. ;-"

                                                                                                                                      but the Iranian royalty were closely aligned to the US. it's the ones who deposed the Shah that haven't much cared for the US.

                                                                                                                                      although perhaps the offense was so great it was felt in a sense of national empathy for the Pahlavis? ("yeah they're dictators, but they're OUR dictators! and you feed them this Betty Crocker goo <grumble grumble>")

                                                                                                                                    2. I won't go in to my personal opinion about GBC, but its pretty apparent to me from reading the responses that the origin of the dish springs up from the post WWII T-Day conventions which grew around the access to canned foods.

                                                                                                                                      In the '50s the fourth Thursday in November means that in the northern states, fresh produce is long gone. Root vegetables were prevalent along with hard squashes. So you can see why potato dishes (whether regular or sweet) are common.

                                                                                                                                      My parents moved to the US in the 60s. As they settled in and had a family they adopted T-Day traditions. However, as they were in Florida they had access to fresh produce when those in the frozen north were eating their veg from cans. This was the experience of my wife from New England. To this day, she has a visceral reaction to various types of canned beans.

                                                                                                                                      So GBC was never part of my youth. Wasn't really part of my wife's either curiously enough.

                                                                                                                                      But for many other families, as noted by others, it was the only green dish on the menu. The now ubiquitous brussel sprouts weren't in every market. The produce section of most markets were sparse and the modern grocery store chain had not yet conquered America. So since it was common in the winter for many to get their green veg quota from a can, its not surprising GBC became a popular dish given the social media of the time (magazines and paper).

                                                                                                                                      But now we have markets full of fresh produce all through the year and so our options are greater. Some will hold on to their traditions and include GBC in their T-Day meals, but my guess is that new traditions will develop as the generation that holds the fondness for the dish fades and the reasons for it recede.

                                                                                                                                      I look at salmon and peas for the Fourth of July as an example. Other than my in-laws, I am not aware of anyone who does that. Totally been killed off by the cookout. But it made such sense as a seasonal dish in the northeast.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                        I have Boston friends whose July 4 tradition of salmon, peas, and hand cranked strawberry ice cream is a couple hundred years old. They still have an ice house.
                                                                                                                                        Shelling a bushel of peas requires a bloody mary or two.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                          Good to know that there are others still doing that. I'll take 2 BMs with the peas.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                            just the 2? or maybe the mix just gets a little more 'clear' after a while...