Green bean casserole is gross! And, yes, I do mean the green bean casserole that your mother, grandfather, third cousin or great uncle makes every year for Thanksgiving.
In my opinion, there’s so much to hate — frozen green beans, processed fried onions and nauseating cream of mushroom soup. The later falls into what I call “post-apocalyptic” foods because I cannot comprehend how something that is “cream of” has a shelf life of 43 years. Don’t misunderstand, I like green beans — fresh green beans — and fried onions are fine. It’s the cream of mushroom soup to which I object. Also, I don’t like mushrooms.
And, yet, a lot of people love green bean casserole and look forward to its annual appearance on the table at holiday celebrations. Others tolerate its presence because it’s tradition.
A tradition that originated in the 1950s when Dorcas Reilly, who worked for Campbell’s kitchen as a recipe creator, invented the green bean casserole recipe that for many years graced the label of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup and may still for all I know. Reilly combined the soup with frozen green beans and topped the casserole with fried onions for an easy-to-make dish et voilà, a holiday tradition was born.
My mother, aka Mummy, insists that my paternal grandmother, Pauline, always made green bean casserole for family holiday gatherings. I have no memory of this. I cannot say when I was forced to eat green bean casserole; nevertheless, there must have been at least one unfortunate experience that resulted in my hatred of this dish. Either that or I rejected it outright because of the cream of mushroom soup, which is certainly possible.
Love it or hate it, green bean casserole is not the only divisive holiday dish. Do a quick internet search and you will find numerous surveys and articles that record the hated holiday foods of people in this country and beyond. There are the usual suspects — fruitcake, Jell-O molds, cranberry sauce, eggnog and the already-mentioned green bean casserole — and some that are a mystery to me, including creamed pearl onions and Snickers Salad. The first sounds horrible and the second is just confusing. Seriously, what is a Snickers Salad and who thought two things that are diametrically opposed, candy bars and salad, should be combined?
I also polled some of my closest friends to find out what holiday foods they hate — some of their responses are included below.
Cranberry sauce often tops the lists of most hated holiday foods and my friends concurred. One said, “Cranberries are to be mixed with vodka and in juice form only.” Others hate it specifically because “it’s congealed” and “looks gross.” They also shared that, at Thanksgiving especially, cranberry sauce continues to be on table because it’s always been there.
I actually like a whole berry cranberry sauce and Mummy’s friend, Terri, makes a cranberry marmalade that is amazing! Terri, if you are reading this, I’ll take two vats, please.
This one’s complicated. I don’t hate turkey, but I have no desire to roast a whole turkey, mainly because I don’t care for dark meat. I have roasted turkey breasts for past holiday meals, but I may or may not this year. I’m not really one for tradition. Last year, I cooked a nice side of salmon for Thanksgiving. This year it could be curry.
I was surprised to see turkey on the hated food lists. It shows up for two reasons:
1. It’s time consuming to prepare.
2. It’s often dry.
This opinion was echoed by one of my friends, who said, “I don't so much hate it, but it's so dry and cumbersome. I have really enjoyed non-traditional Thanksgiving dinners, where we use a different meat as the focal point or pare it down to just a turkey leg.”
I made a delicious turkey and stuffing bread pudding last year as a Thanksgiving side dish with stuffing bread from Stick Boy Bakery. Also, my husband’s family makes pan-fried stuffing patties, continuing a tradition started by his grandmother, CeCe. I’ll eat stuffing but I don’t feel strongly about it either way. Others do. One of my friends insisted, “It's like eating someone's vomit!” Oyster stuffing, however, which appears on many hated holiday food lists, is definitely a no for me.
Green Bean Casserole
You know how I feel about green bean casserole, but what did my friends say? Some love it, others hate it. Those who hate it said:
“Green bean casserole is a weird slimy mess.”
“I pretty much hate green beans under any circumstance.”
“Green bean casserole is slimy, tasteless and mushy, but my mom insists, ‘It's not Thanksgiving without green bean casserole!’”
Sweet Potato Casserole
What was it with the 1950s and casseroles? I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes in general and think they are a very versatile food; however, I can do without the marshmallow-topped, diabetic coma inducing sweet potato casserole that is a holiday dinner staple. A number of my friends mentioned this dish and one said, “Sweet potato casserole with those tiny marshmallows... nooooooo...” Also, Mummy shared that her mother used to make one every year with pineapple, nuts and tons of marshmallows on top. Mummy did not continue that tradition.
Jell-O Salad / Molds
Yet more evidence that the 1950s were a terrible time for food. If jiggly Jell-O weren’t enough on its own, for some reason we decided to mix in bits of fruit, often canned, marshmallows, and whatever else happened to be around, and let it all congeal together into a sliceable blob. And, then there are the savory Jell-O molds, filled with vegetables. I love fruit and vegetables, but I don’t want either packaged in gelatin. Apparently, Jell-O salads are also a thing, about which one of my friends said, “Jell-O salad is disgusting, both in taste and appearance and texture. My great aunt used to make it every year, but now that she’s in a nursing home, no one makes it!”
I’ve not tried the dense, brick-like fruitcake that magically appears in grocery stores each holiday season and since people seem to hate it, I think I’ll pass. And, yet, some portion of the population must purchase it each year for the stores to continue to stock it. Mummy makes a version with candied cherries, nuts and copious amounts of rum that I do like and look forward to.
So, full disclosure, I’ve never tried eggnog, so it may be delicious; however, my first thought was, “There’s nothing like a cup of boozy eggs to accompany your holiday meal!”