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On a sales trip, Thomas was meeting with a distributor at a warehouse when he glimpsed a metal tray. He learned that Pan Am was experimenting with the trays in hopes of serving warm food on long flights.

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He then goes on to describe how he drew a sketch dividing the tray into segments, and was soon struck with the idea to capitalize on the brand-new television craze that was just beginning to take over American homes. His final spark of inspiration: The Library of Congress attributes the TV dinner to three different sources: Families were virtually living their lives, after school and after work, around television.

Preparation for mealtime was restricted.

We wondered what our lives would be like in the year , and were very interested in technology and machinery. People embraced TV trays and TV dinners not because the food was good — it was awful — but because it was futuristic and convenient.

10 Things You Never Knew About TV Dinners from 10 Things You Never Knew About TV Dinners

In that famous AP interview, Gerry Thomas recalls receiving complaints. In , Betty Cronin, fresh out of Duchesne College, was working as a bacteriologist at Swanson when she was tasked with the development of the TV Dinner. She had mostly male underlings. She was soon promoted to director of product development, and was the person who figured out how the meat, the vegetables, and the potatoes could all be heated at once using the same cooking time.

She also solved other pressing problems: Cronin found herself taste-testing all of her experiments.

History of TV Dinners | HowStuffWorks

There were a lot of duds, and she quickly grew tired of it so she recruited some other unfortunate souls. In , dessert was added, and that little compartment of cobbler that would come to scorch the roofs of countless mouths made its debut. But then again, so did the brownie — yum!

The company introduced Swanson Breakfasts to the market in And just what did this luxury TV dinner entail?


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And the pot roast is braised in Burgundian pinot noir. You've got your salmon, scallops, turbot, oysters, and lobster tails poached in Dom Perignon. You've got your white Alba truffles.

TV Dinners (song)

You've got your Beluga caviar. And you've obviously got your carat gold leaf crumb to garnish, because parsley is for peasants. In the past few years, several articles have been written on the impending doom the TV dinner might be facing. The TV dinner can actually trace its history to airplanes, and a company called Maxson Food Systems that began manufacturing frozen meals that could be reheated in the sky in , according to the Library of Congress. The very first Swanson TV Dinner consisted of sliced turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, and peas, and this newfangled and space-age way of dining caught on like wildfire.

Not only did it only require 25 minutes in a degree oven, it allowed everyone from busy moms to bachelors to feed themselves or their family a full meal for a low price. Over the years, the formula was refined: Today, there are more frozen dinners than you can count in every supermarket freezer aisle, both healthy and unhealthy. There are frozen dinners for kids, frozen dinners for men , frozen dinners geared toward women, even vegan frozen dinners. Read on for 10 things you may not have known about TV dinners.