In Market: Trailing Oklahoma and Louisiana, it’s time for Texas to take a stand, a tasty convenient stand.

🕐 3 min read

We’re behind, Texas – way behind.

Put this issue on the legislative agenda. Forget immigration. Who cares about the price of oil?

This is a moral stand we must not shrink from. Yes, we’re not doing so well in education (thank God for Mississippi). And our rate of insured Texans? Well, even with Obamacare, we’re still at uninsured rock bottom.

Those items on the check-off list of being a great state are important, sure, but this number shocked me out of my Lone Star complacency: Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a casserole gap.

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Growing up in Texas, nary a Christmas, Thanksgiving, hospital stay or “passing” as we used to say, could go by without ladies from the church dropping off a casserole dish. There was tuna casserole, squash casserole, Mexican casserole, green-bean casserole and, sometimes, something-that-you-didn’t-know what-it-was casserole. But you ate it, reheated it and ate it again. And maybe again, with some Tabasco sauce on it.

Casseroles by definition come in a Pyrex dish with a clear lid with masking tape and the name of the cook inscribed in Marks-A-Lot. Whenever someone at church was sick or had a death in the family, my mother would rally the church ladies like Ike preparing for D-Day.

The message was clear: Casseroles had mystical healing powers whose origins were buried in the mists of time. Green-bean casserole at Stonehenge? Probably.

My niece, Melissa, loved to see what varieties of casserole dishes the church ladies could cook up. Sometimes, they put in some onions, some pecans, pumpkin seeds, who knew? My niece couldn’t wait to introduce her children to this underappreciated culinary world. So with a recent relative’s passing, she brought her children in hopes of sharing her love of casserole cornucopia. Alas, there was a table of takeout barbecue, chicken wings and tacos. She was disappointed. Has the generation of casserole makers – the wives of the Greatest Generation – passed us by?

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I thought maybe this was just a one-time occurrence, but now I have empirical data to back up the decline of the Lone Star State.

In Texas, only 40 percent of us expect to taste that mixture of Del Monte canned green beans, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup and French’s Crispy Fried Onions – better known as green-bean casserole – on Thanksgiving.

You Baptists have been falling down on the job. Worse, No. 1 is our neighbor to the east, Louisiana, where 60 percent of those in the gambling, drinking, overeating state expect to eat green bean casserole. Just north of us, teetotaling or tea touting Oklahomans are No. 2, with 58 percent expecting to eat this dish that I thought was required by the Texas Constitution (I think it’s in there, though I haven’t read its 4,678 pages lately).

According to Del Monte, there are still 30 million green-bean casseroles set to appear on Thanksgiving tables this week. All right America, I say whichever presidential candidate vows to restore green-bean casserole to its rightful place at Thanksgiving gets my vote. Maybe that explains the Ben Carson phenomenon?

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Del Monte, who, let’s face it, has a vested interested in this subject, conducted this study, asking 3,000 Americans about their green-bean casserole plans for Thanksgiving.

At least isn’t Hawaii, where only 17 percent of people expected to taste green-bean casserole at their holiday table. When I was growing up, there were two or three different versions of the dish at each gathering.

Texans, it’s time to fight. Get your bumper stickers ready: They’ll pry this green-bean casserole from my cold, dead, cream of mushroom soup-covered hands.

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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