Wednesday, November 23, 2005

timely death

Ruth M. Siems, a retired General Foods home economist who helped develop Stove Top stuffing, died Nov. 13, close enough to Thanksgiving to have her obit run across the country while folks are doing prep work for their holiday feast.

I love this kind of thing. It's not that I wish people to die. I just appreciate it when a person's death seems to have been orchestrated to have the obit run in conjunction with a holiday or a happening in the news.

Like politicians who die around election day. Veterans memorialized around Memorial Day. Football players who kick the bucket during college-bowl season or the NFL playoffs.

Margalit Fox, an excellent obit writer for The New York Times, penned the Siems obit distributed by the NYT wire service. I suspect many newspapers will run the obit Thursday. I love that Margalit used the stuffing-lady's death as an excuse to write the history of Stove Top stuffing, although it did come off somewhat like a press release for Kraft Foods.

She got a great quote from Laura Shapiro, author of "Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950's America." Shapiro said, "Stove Top made it possible to have the stuffing without the turkey, probably something no cook would ever have dreamed of but people eating Thanksgiving dinner might well have thought of: 'Take away everything else; just leave me here with the stuffing!' It's kind of like eating the chocolate chips without the cookies."

And Margalit threw in an ironic fact. There are several stuffing recipes online for making Stove Top stuffing from scratch. Bravo, Margalit!

Also interesting: The inventive home economist was not survived by a husband or children, suggesting that she was not an old-fashioned happy homemaker. I don't know whether she never married or if she outlived a spouse and kids.

And Siems died of a heart attack at 74. I wonder whether her heart condition was related to her diet.

1 comment:

Claire Martin said...

I saw this earlier today, and wanted to write a fan email. The obit also made it plain that while the stuffing is an institution by now, it's not everyone's favorite. And she did it in that splendidly tactful way.