November 15, 2018

Give thanks to a late Purdue alumna for a popular holiday dish – Stove Top stuffing

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The idea for a classic Thanksgiving dish that will fill millions of plates this year came from a student at Purdue University.

The late Ruth Siems, a 1953 home economics graduate, is credited with the invention of Stove Top stuffing, according to Purdue’s Inventors and Innovators website. The product hit shelves in 1971 as a dish appropriate for Thanksgiving but also for weeknight meals. The secret behind the dish are the dimensions of the bread crumbs, which General Foods patented in 1975. Siems is listed first of the inventors, followed by Anthony Capossela Jr., John Halligan, and C. Robert Wyss.  

Siems’ invention came at at a time when there was a high demand in America for more convenience foods. Siems worked on developing Stove Top stuffing while working at General Foods, and the invention quickly became a Thanksgiving staple – noted for its easy way of making stuffing without having to actually stuff a turkey.

Siems grew up in Evansville, Indiana, and died in 2005 at her home in Newburgh, Indiana, according to her obituary in the The New York Times. She worked at General Foods was almost 35 years. Kraft Foods now owns Stove Top stuffing, which sells about 60 million boxes a year. The dish comes in a variety of different flavors.

Purdue Archives and Special Collections has information about Siems’ work on food inventions as part of the Gertrude Sunderlin Papers. Sunderlin was an early foods and nutrition professor at Purdue. 

This year, Purdue is celebrating 150 years of Giant Leaps. This yearlong celebration is highlighting Purdue’s history of giant leaps, while focusing on what giant leaps Purdue can take to address the world’s problems.   

Writer: Abbey Nickel, 765-496-1325, nickela@purdue.edu

Source: Sammie Morris, head of Archives and Special Collections, morris18@purdue.edu 

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