Baked Beans–And a Trip Down Memory Lane

by , under Blogging, Cooking, Google, Online Research, Tradition, Wikipedia

In today’s issue of The Plain Dealer, the local paper (that I have to read online on Tuesdays because it only prints papers on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday), there was an article about a Food and Drug Administration recall of Bush’s Country Style Baked Beans. As it turned out, I had a can of this product in my pantry shelves. I jumped up and took a look at the can to see if it was part of the recall.

Doing this started me thinking about baked beans. I really like them and often include them at our family picnics or take them as my contribution to potluck events. I often use the bean pot given to me by Mrs. Mac, the housemother of my Sigma Chi fraternity chapter, when I became pinned to Mary Jane during college.

Sigma Chi bean pot

I wanted to learn more about the history of baked beans. So I opened my Google Chrome browser and searched for “origins of baked beans.” Of course, there were several “hits,” but the best was on a blog named A Brief History of Food, by Karen Miller. She posted “A Brief History of Baked Beans” on Jan 3, 2015. Here are excerpts:

When I was a young girl, my mother made Boston Baked Beans every Saturday night, served with Boston Brown Bread and hot dogs. This was a tradition in our family, and I thought that everyone ate beans on Saturdays.

Baked beans and Boston brown bread

Now our family didn’t have baked beans every Saturday night as we were growing up in Andover, Ohio, but my mother did serve them every now and then–and she did include the Boston Brown Bread and hot dogs. I haven’t had the bread in years, but reading this and seeing the photo brought back the taste immediately. I’m going to have to check on my next visit to the store to see if it is available these days.

Ms. Miller continued her blog posting with the following history lesson:

Little did I know there was a reason for preparing beans on Saturday, which stemmed from Colonial America, and our Puritan upbringing. Sunday was the Sabbath; no work was allowed on that day, and that included cooking. Most Puritans spent Sunday in church, and during the winter months, their austere places of worship were cold and drafty. Because there was no cooking there would be no warm or filling meal at the end of the day, if not for the miracle of baked beans. Beans were prepared on Saturday, and the leftovers were kept in the oven until Sunday. The wood fired ovens would hold their heat, and keep the beans warm enough so the church goers would have a hearty meal when they returned home.

Food history blogger Miller continued with other information about baked beans and the bread, including more history and her favorite recipes.

As you might imagine, other websites, including Wikipedia, offered information about baked beans and variations called stewed beans and cowboy beans (served from chuck wagons on cattle drives).

Now back to my can of Bush’s baked beans: the produce code


on my can was different from those specified for the recall. So I feel confident I can enjoy them in the near future, maybe with Boston Brown Bread and hot dogs. Yummy!



  1. Mary Boehnlein

    We had the same meal every so often and my mother made the Boston brown bread baked in tin cans which were set in a pan of water. I have never tried it as I never like it but I do have my mother’s recipiet-will have to dig it out and send it to you or maybe try it myself and see if my tastes have changed since childhood. Brought back memories.
    when we were first married I tried to make baked beans and set the bean to soak overnight as my mother did. Then cooked them-for three days and they never did get soft-buy Bushes now especially the grilling beans.


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