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  • Writer's pictureJace Shoemaker-Galloway

TV Dinner Day

If you are hungry and in a hurry, go grab your fork! Sept. 10 is TV Dinner Day!

History of the TV Dinner

While there is some debate as to who actually invented the frozen, pre-cooked meal, Gerald Thomas, from C.A. Swanson & Sons, is often credited as the inventor of the TV dinner. After visiting the kitchens of the airline industry, Thomas noticed the single-compartment, aluminum trays used in airplane food. He designed a turkey-filled, three-compartment tray, perfect for individual servings, and presented it to the company.

On September 10, 1953, the first Swanson TV Dinner was sold. The first product included turkey and dressing, buttered peas and sweet potatoes served in a divided, aluminum tray. Each ready-to-eat meal cost just under $1 and was packaged to resemble America’s latest craze –television! The product also fit perfectly on folding TV trays so people could watch TV while they ate.

Although Clarence Birdseye probably invented the frozen dinner in 1923, it was Swanson that coined the phrase “TV Dinner” and embarked upon a massive and successful frozen dinner advertising campaign. A few years later, Swanson added another compartment to the tray for desserts. And the rest, as they say, is pop culture history.


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