Recipe: Fibonacci Sequence Baked Beans

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci | Illustration by John O'Brien

Back in April 2010, when my Fibonacci book was first published, one of my friends immediately sent this recipe for something he called Fibonacci Sequence Baked Beans. Every year he used to print up copies of his own personal cookbook, which he gave as gift to his friend for the holidays.

Since provenance in recipes is as important as provenance in art, I hasten to add that the recipe was sent to me by the composer Jan Powell, talented co-creator of American Tales and other works of musical theater. Jan reports that he was given the recipe by his dear friend Martha Boles, whom he reports was a math teacher in New England prior to her retirement. (The language in the recipe sounds like Jan.) Please, if you share the recipe, please remember to credit both Powell and Boles. Thank you, Ms. Boles, wherever you are...

Fibonacci Sequence Baked Beans

From composer Jan Powell, adapted from a recipe by math teacher Martha Boles.

Fibonacci Sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 … each new term in the sequence is gotten by adding the previous two.  (A little math fact for those who were dying to know!)


1 can (15.5 oz) kidney beans, drained

1 can (15.5 oz) butter beans, drained

2 cans (21 oz) pork and beans

3 chopped onions

5 miscellaneous ingredients:

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dry mustard

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup catsup

8 slices bacon  


“Heat oven to 350°. Sauté onion and bacon. Drain, crumble the bacon, and mix all ingredients together. Pour into casserole sprayed with cooking oil. Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until hot.  (Notice: There are 5 sentences in the directions.)

“When I make these beans I frequently forgo the mathematical perfection for more flavor. For example, instead of butter beans, I use 1 can each of pinto, lima and black beans. (OK, that’s 1, 1, 1, and 3, so we’re still golden). I use the smaller cans of pork and beans.

“Also, ¼ tsp garlic powder practically eliminates one of the basic food groups. I use 8 cloves of minced garlic—hey, that number works!

“I usually sauté the bacon and onion as per the directions, but recently have discovered the fat-reducing properties of cooking bacon in the microwave (and far less mess).  I just throw the onions in the casserole and bake them—more from not paying attention rather than design, but I think it works just fine. More bacon fat means a little more flavor, but who among us needs it? Enjoy!”

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