Stove Top Stuffing Creator Dies

Ruth M. Siems, a home economist from southern Indiana who helped create Stove Top stuffing, a Thanksgiving favorite that will be on dinner tables across the country this year, has died at 74.

Siems, who worked for General Foods for more than 30 years, died Nov. 13 in Newburgh, Ind., after suffering a heart attack at her home.

Siems helped develop Stove Top in 1971 while working at General Foods' technical center in White Plains, N.Y. She was listed first among four inventors when the patent was awarded in 1975 for the quick and easy way of making stuffing without actually stuffing a turkey.

"Everyone always had me pegged as a creative person," Siems told The Evansville Courier in a 1991 interview. "I've always liked to put things together."

Kraft Foods, which now owns the Stove Top brand, sells about 60 million boxes each year around Thanksgiving. The five-minute stuffing comes in several flavors, including turkey, chicken and beef.

As a member of the research and development staff for General Foods, Siems helped find the ideal bread crumb size for making instant stuffing with the same texture as the real thing, her brother, David Siems of Highland, Mich., said Wednesday.

"Ruth kind of found the key being the bread you used," he said. "Once they did that, it worked out to be a pretty good product."

Siems grew up in Evansville and graduated from Purdue University in 1953 with a home economics degree. She later took a job at a General Foods plant in Indiana, researching flour and angel food cake mixes.

Siems retired in 1985 and settled in a historic house in Newburgh, an Ohio River town east of Evansville. An antique collector, she restored spinning wheels and looms, often using them for personal sewing projects.

While Stove Top has become wildly popular on American tables in the decades since its creation, her brother said Siems was modest about its success.

"She didn't make a big deal out of it at all," he said.

By Ryan Lenz