QueenB – I think Porcupine Meatballs, or Porcupines, were popular at least as early as the 50s or 40s. They appear in most pressure cooker cookbooks of the period. The "miracle" was that raw rice would cook inside the ground meat, and poke out in little spines (reportedly providing hours of entertainment for the entire family). Some recipes even use canned tomato soup for the sauce base.
I had a roommate in college who grew up with these and adapted the recipe to work in a regular pan. I remember them as being pretty good. Yours is the first recipe I recall seeing written for conventional cooking.