Green Bean Casseroles Are Thanksgiving's Most Overrated Dish
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Well, folks, Thanksgiving is upon us, a holiday defined by turkey, football, and trying your absolute damnedest not to get too hammered as your boomer parents and zoomer cousins duke it out over the ethics of this yearly celebration – well, that and bowing down to the overlords of Big SoupTM as you sop spoonfuls of the thick, sloppy, overly-rich, overly-mushy, and most importantly, overly-rated monstrosity that is green bean casserole onto your plate.
Despite the dish's name and status as a Thanksgiving dinner must-have, green bean casserole is not a casserole, nor have those canned green beans ever fooled anyone into thinking they're the star of the show. The green bean casserole, in all of its weird '50s glory, is truly nothing more than a socially acceptable excuse to eat fried onions slathered in what is essentially cream sauce, a scheme-y Thanksgiving tradition launched by none other than the Campbell's Soup Company to get our sweet, sweet holiday cash.
Contrary to popular misconception, the Thanksgiving staple was not invented on some culinary-savvy housewife's four-burner stove at the peak of the 1950's casserole craze, with the intent of sticking it to Delores with the Mercedes-Benz down the street. Rather, the green bean casserole's origins stem from the ultra-corporate test Kitchen of Campbell's New Jersey-based headquarters. Conceived in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly, one of the first full-time staffers at the company's Home Economic Department – a.k.a the Campbell Test Kitchen -- by the following decade, the dish had become a holiday classic, a glow-up driven by none other good ‘ol marketing.
After Campbell's decided to add the recipe for the soupy, onion-y, green-bean-y fare onto the back of cream of mushroom soup cans, the casserole found Thanksgiving fame, driving sales of everyone’s third-to-last favorite pre-canned soup by 50% between November and January, according to company's website.
Yet as the decades have gone by, the cream of mushroom soup – as well as the green beans, which can hardly be tasted under the thick layers of lactose-filled canned goods -- have taken a backseat, the fried onions emerging as the heir apparent in keeping the green bean casserole relevant by the standards of modern tastes and trends. Let's be real here, unless you really, really, really love cream of mushroom soup, there is no compelling reason to chow down on the item other than the fried onions, and doing so is really only complicating the inevitable.
Reader, for the sake of your holiday celebrations, I implore you to skip the casserole decorum and skip straight to the good part. Although there may be shame in eating some foods, like pineapple on pizza (a combination that I personally enjoy but openly admit is pretty damn bizarre), fried onions cannot be counted among them.
Fried onions are delicious. There's a reason why Funnyons exist, why you can purchase 26.5 oz bags of French's French fried onions, and why pop star Lorde has a not-so-secret Instagram account dedicated to rating onion rings – onions cooked in oil are f--king delicious. Considering the taste factor of this delicacy, why slow yourself down with cream of mushroom soup and some green beans – which in this situation, are really just there for show, like broccoli atop of a deep-dish pizza – when you can just have the onion rings? Is this approach unconventional? Sure! But at one point, mac and cheese on Thanksgiving probably was unheard of, too.
So dear reader, if you truly love green bean casserole, by all means, have at it, but remember, no one is stopping you from indulging in your deepest, darkest desires and having a handful of fried onions instead – you'll survive the glares from your aunts, don't worry.
Top Image: Shutterstock