Gerald Thomas, a C.A. Swanson & Sons executive, had a big problem. What to do with about 270 tons of left over Thanksgiving turkey.The Smithsonian Institute inducted the original Swanson TV Dinner tray into the Museum of American History in 1986. Today we celebrate this piece of American cultural history with TV Dinner Day!
"After Thanksgiving, Swanson had ten refrigerated railroad cars -- each containing 520,000 pounds of unsold turkeys -- going back and forth across the country in refrigerated railroad box cars, 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 the TV dinner was born.
The term "TV Dinner" is now synonymous with any prepackaged, frozen meal that requires little preparation and contains an entire single-serving meal. Modern-day TV dinners can be cooked in the microwave (instead of the oven) and include gourmet recipes as well as organic and vegetarian dishes.
Want to celebrate TV Dinner Day? Stop by your local supermarket and pick up some old-fashioned TV dinners for your family or pick out some fun products with TV dinners on them!