Funeral Potatoes – one of “America’s Greatest Triumphs”, at least according to Food and Wine.
Funeral potatoes have long been associated with Latter-day Saints and Relief Society, so much so that recipes often refer to them as “Mormon Funeral Potatoes.”
They are so iconic that they have become the general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said in October 2010 general conference, “We sometimes smile at the stories of our sisters—you know, green jelly, quilts, and funeral potatoes. But my family has been the grateful recipient of each of these items at one time or another – and in one case, the funeral quilt and potatoes on the same day.
These delicious dairy-filled potato casseroles are associated with Relief Society philanthropy and service. Elisabeth Sherman wrote for the Matador Network, “To ease the burden on grieving families, Relief Society members prepared the dish to serve at luncheons after funerals, earning it its unflattering nickname. .
But why funeral potatoes? Why not other casserole dishes or other meals? What made grave potatoes a staple of Latter-day Saints?
Are funeral potatoes the equivalent of McDonald’s for Latter-day Saints?
Quick, easy, and delicious, Funeral Potatoes are the convenient, home-cooked dish that Latter-day Saints are drawn to.
Jacqueline Thursby, a retired folklore professor at Brigham Young University, described funeral potatoes as fast food. She said in an interview with NPR, “It was even more perfect for Relief Society, the Mormon women’s auxiliary organization involved in ministry to the sick, the poor, and the afflicted, who needed quick meals. for the endless births, marriages and deaths they witnessed. Funeral potatoes have become a staple food – an essential fast food for tough times.
NPR described Funeral Potatoes as a “blend of pioneering self-sufficiency and cozy ’50s cooking”. In many ways, funeral potato recipes combine these two things.
Potatoes are plentiful in Utah and Idaho, making the surrounding areas suitable for serving potato dishes. Cassers are the go-to food for serving large groups of people—it makes sense that potato casseroles are popular among Latter-day Saints. Not all Latter-day Saints live in Utah or Idaho (not even most), but the religion has strong ties to the region, and much of its culture developed in this area.
Since condensed soup and cornflakes are inexpensive ingredients, they also become natural candidates for stirring into the casserole. Tuna casserole is one of the most American casseroles and shares similar ingredients with funeral potatoes. Utah and Idaho are landlocked, and fish used to be much harder to transport: a potato-based casserole makes more sense for the region.
While we may not know the specific reason why Latter-day Saints prepare funeral potatoes, it seems that being an economical mix of home-cooked foods and convenience foods has something to do with it. something to do with it.