Siems -- pronounced "Seems" -- died Nov. 13. She was 74. The New York Times reports:
In 1975, General Foods was awarded United States Patent No. 3,870,803 for the product, generically called Instant Stuffing Mix. Ms. Siems is listed first among the inventors, followed by Anthony C. Capossela Jr., John F. Halligan and C. Robert Wyss.
The secret lay in the crumb size. If the dried bread crumb is too small, adding water to it makes a soggy mass; too large, and the result is gravel. In other words, as the patent explains, "The nature of the cell structure and overall texture of the dried bread crumb employed in this invention is of great importance if a stuffing which will hydrate in a matter of minutes to the proper texture and mouthfeel is to be prepared."
A member of the research and development staff at General Foods, Ms. Siems was instrumental, her sister Suzanne Porter said, in arriving at the precise crumb dimensions -- about the size of a pencil eraser.