Saturday, September 10, 2011

TV Dinner!


TV DINNER Day!!!!!


The story goes...

In 1954, Gerald Thomas, a C.A. Swanson & Sons executive, had a big problem. What to do with about 270 tons of left over Thanksgiving Turkey?

"After Thanksgiving, Swanson had ten refrigerated railroad box cars, each containing 520,000 pounds [240,000 kg.] of unsold turkeys, going back and forth across the country, because there was not enough storage in warehouses. We were challenged to come up with a way to get rid of the turkeys," said Thomas.



He got the breakthrough idea from the trays used for airline food service. And, thus, the TV Dinner was born. 

The first production order was for 5,000 dinners, thought to be a big gamble at the time as rival companies, like Quaker States Foods, were having only limited success in the then burgeoning frozen food market. Swanson hired some two dozen women to man the factory assembly line during the night shift, all armed with ice cream scoops, to fill the new compartmentalized trays. 



The first TV Dinner featured Turkey, Corn Bread Dressing and Gravy, buttered Peas and Sweet Potatoes. It cost 98 cents (€ 70 cents) and came in a box resembling a television set.

The initial 5,000 dinners produced proved to be a gross underestimation. Swanson eventually sold 10,000,000 TV Dinners that very same year.



At the time, most households in America did not own freezers; so, the dinners were bought refrigerated and then "prepared" in the oven at home that very same day. Since the dinners were the exact size of a TV tray, they were perfect for having a hot "home-cooked" meal in front of the television set while watching "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie".



A frozen Fried Chicken dinner was introduced in 1955 with other flavor styles soon to follow.


Lutefisk TV Dinner - Salt Cod cured with Lye!


To this day, Turkey remains the most popular Swanson TV Dinner, except in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas where, inexplicably, Fried Chicken is king. Nobody truly knows why.



Sadly, in 1962 Swanson stopped calling the product TV Dinners, but generations of people around the globe still refer to most frozen pre-made meals as "TV Dinners" and never forget their first taste of an American icon.



1 comment:

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