One of my favorite comfort foods is baked beans. I always thought this might be because I was raised in East Tennessee, close to the original home of the 100-year-old Bush canning company. However, it may also be because of my partially Swedish heritage. After all, it was Swedish immigrants in the 1890's who first brought brown beans to America and cultivated them here. And these special beans, tender when slow-cooked yet with a texture that can stand a lengthy warm soak in the crockpot without disintegrating, are quite possibly the best bean for use in baked bean dishes and soups – as most Swedish grandmothers who serve bruna bönor, baked brown beans, on their smorgasbord tables know already.
Jay Bush doesn't look or sound very Scandinavian in all of those great commercials of his. And the ingredient box on the Bush "original-style baked beans" can lists "prepared white beans" as the primary ingredient of their "secret recipe" rather than Swedish brown beans. Yet my bet is that Jay's grandmother, the originator of their classic recipe, might just have had a Swedish lady or two in her circle of friends.
If I ever get the chance to meet Jay Bush, I'll ask him. But in the meantime, I'm going to figure out a way to cross-examine Duke the Dog. If he answers in Swedish, my theory is confirmed!
Swedish brown bean image ©2008 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.