Rice recipe caused nervous breakdown

1992: Bobbie June Griggs sued South Carolina Electric & Gas, claiming that its publication of her rice recipe caused her to suffer a nervous breakdown. Her husband also brought an action for "loss of consortium."

Griggs had entered her rice recipe in the utility's Third Annual Rice Cookoff in 1989. She wasn't picked as a finalist, but the utility nevertheless included her recipe in the cookoff cookbook (Rice, a lowcountry tradition: the official cookbook for the Third Annual South Carolina Rice Cookoff). This is what triggered the nervous breakdown.

The state court dismissed her case, noting that it was really a copyright case and thus belonged in the federal courts. In 1995, the state supreme court affirmed this decision (although one justice dissented). And it seems that Griggs tried to take her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, because the AP reported in April 1996 that the Supreme Court also refused to hear her case, noting that "copyright law does not cover infliction of emotional distress" and also that you can't copyright a single recipe.

Her recipe, which she said she spent 10 years developing, involved canned tomatoes, meatballs, onions and bell peppers on a bed of rice. She called it "June's Creation."

Spartanburg Herald-Journal - Apr 23, 1996

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 18, 2015
     Category: Food | Cookbooks | Lawsuits | 1990s

Couldn't you find the recipe for us?

It sounds, to me, inappropriate for a rice-recipe competition -- the rice seems to be an adjunct to her meat sauce and toppings rather than the star of the dish. A lot of people substitute egg noodles for the rice in such dishes, and this is one where it would probably taste better that way.

I developed my own recipe for chocolate buttercream cheesecake. People have suggested I submit it to contests or cook-offs, but then it wouldn't be uniquely mine. Also, its effect on women is so strong, the potential for misuse is high; I wouldn't feel right letting just anyone use it.
Posted by Phideaux on 12/18/15 at 02:22 PM
>>Couldn't you find the recipe for us?

I am curious to try it. On my next trip to the library, I'll see if I can interlibrary loan the SCE&G cookbook.
Posted by Alex on 12/18/15 at 02:54 PM
If you want to try what I think is the best rice recipe (and one of the easiest):

In a covered baking dish at least 4" deep, put two cups of white rice, one can of cream of mushroom soup, one can of cream of asparagus soup (or cream of celery, if that's your thing), and one can of water. Stir until it's an even glop (no lumps of soup, no untouched rice). Smooth the top, and put on as many skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs as you can in a single layer (you want no rice showing). Sprinkle a packet of dry onion soup mix over the top. Cover (the top of my favorite baking dish is a little loose, so I scrunch aluminum foil around it to seal it). Bake at 275 for 3 hours.

You might think this is a chicken-and-rice recipe, but the chicken is just there to add flavor to the rice (which is why chicken breasts don't work for this dish -- they're essentially tasteless and have nothing to add to the rice).

Fast and easy to throw together, it slow cooks so you're free until it's time to dish it up, and it's an awesome taste with delicate texture.
Posted by Phideaux on 12/18/15 at 05:21 PM
Here's a link to the case. If you REALLY want to know the recipe you can buy the complete record for only $7.95. It MIGHT be in there.

Posted by Puptentacle on 12/18/15 at 10:42 PM
Puptentacle -- that court record seems to be the same as the one I linked to above on the justia.com website. In other words, no one should pay $7.95 for it because it's freely available elsewhere:

Posted by Alex on 12/19/15 at 09:40 AM
If she had a nervous breakdown over rice then there is no help for her. Hope she never had children or even pets for that matter.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 12/19/15 at 10:30 AM
Alex - Didn't see the link. But that certainly looks like the same sort of outfit. That should be freely available information. Though if I REALLY wanted the information it might be worth eight bucks to avoid having to go through the hassle of finding it.

Now I'm DYING to see the recipe!
Posted by Puptentacle on 12/19/15 at 04:08 PM
Lemme guess...

Heat oven to 180 C/moderate/gas mark 4/350 F.
Fry meat balls in oil until brown.
Chop onions and peppers, add to meat balls, turn heat down, sweat until onions are translucent.
Add tin (or two) of canned tomato chunks with juice, mix well.
Grease oven tin, cover bottom in rice, pour over just enough stock to cover, then pour meat/vegetable mix on top.
Cover tin with tin foil, bake in oven for half an hour. Remove tin foil for last ten minutes if you want a crunchy top (optionally sprinkling with grated cheese or breadcrumbs).

Am I close?
Posted by Richard Bos on 12/24/15 at 12:39 PM
Don't know what her recipe was but yours sounds delicious honey.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 12/24/15 at 06:54 PM
Off-the-cuff, too. When you've had to cook for yourself for long enough (and can't be happy with takeaways or microwave dinners), it comes natural after a while.
Posted by Richard Bos on 12/26/15 at 12:33 PM
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