The Inventor Who Took The Stuffiness Out of Stuffing

By Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 24, 2005

Quick! Stir this while we take a sec to give thanks for dear Ruth Siems, who is credited with inventing Stove Top Stuffing in 1972, of which tens of millions of boxes are eaten every year. ( Instead of potatoes.) She died last week, but somebody neglected to run her obituary until today, which is such a holiday-rush kind of thing to do.

Siems, 74, died Nov. 13 after having a heart attack at her home in Newburgh, Ind., according to news reports. She was part of that spunky generation of home-ec majors who set about making the world faster, more powdery-instant. She worked at General Foods (later subsumed by Kraft) for a few decades, first in the cake-mix end of things, then at the super-secret labs. Stove Top Stuffing was what she brought to the table, and no small gift that.

Even now the food snobs sneer. They and their wild-rice-with-steamed-chestnuts obsessiveness and homemade cornbread-and-oyster dressing fetishes. Every year you try some new twist on it. And when it goes wrong, who saves the day? Who wins the taste test with any 10-year-old? (Hint: not the Barefoot Contessa.) It's Ruth Siems, that's who -- in five minutes flat, after a hearty appetizer of Chex Mix and cocktail weenies. You live in America, people. Give the woman her due.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company