Posts Tagged With: Frozen food

253/365: National TV Dinner Day

There’s no need to change the channel, you’re reading it correctly: September 10 is National TV Dinner Day!

We sort of did this before when we celebrated National Frozen Food Day back in March, though that holiday never specified a TV dinner. It may surprise you to learn that C.A. Swanson & Sons actually trademarked the name “TV Brand Frozen Dinner” in 1954. They didn’t invent frozen, compartmentalized meals, but they were the first to achieve mass-market success with the product. In 1944, William L. Maxson’s frozen dinners were being served on airplanes. The first frozen dinners packaged in oven-ready aluminum trays appeared under the name brand One-Eye Eskimo in 1952; their “Frigi-Dinner” entrees included beef stew with corn and peas, veal goulash with peas and potatoes, and chicken chow mein with egg rolls and fried rice. But it was Swanson’s, with a well-known brand name and extensive marketing campaign called “Operation Smash,” that was able to convince the general public that their TV dinners were convenient and tasty. Their first offering was a Thanksgiving meal consisting of turkey, cornbread dressing, peas, and sweet potatoes. The name “TV dinner” actually referred to the shape of the tray: the main entree was located in a large compartment on one side of the tray, and the vegetables lined up in smaller compartments on the other side, similar to the layout of a 1950s television set with a screen on the left, and the speaker and controls on the right. They sold for 98 cents and were cooked at 425°F for 25 minutes.

Over the years, the meals evolved. A wider variety of main courses was introduced, and the name “TV dinner” was officially dropped from packaging in the 1960s. In 1986, the familiar aluminum trays were replaced with microwave-safe trays. The original Swanson metal TV dinner tray was inducted into the Smithsonian Institute to honor its place in American culture, and Swanson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999.

Like them or loathe them, TV dinners are an important part of American history (and a reminder of a more innocent era). To celebrate, Tara and I were rebellious and had TV dinners…for LUNCH. ‘Cause that’s how we roll. I went with turkey, she chose salisbury steak. The portions weren’t huge, and actually made a pretty decent midday meal! 

National TV Dinner Day

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65/365: National Frozen Food Day

Today is a nICE day to celebrate food. Specifically, food that comes from the freezer. March 6 is National Frozen Food Day!

Frozen food has been around as long as the last Ice Age, when Neanderthals subsisted on a diet made up largely of Popsicles. In 1912, Clarence Birdseye went on a fur-trapping expedition in the frigid Arctic region of Canada. While there, he noticed that fresh-caught fish froze instantly in the bitter cold, and discovered when it was cooked weeks later, it still tasted delicious. “That’s pretty bitchin’, eh,” he said, quickly latching onto the native vernacular. When he returned to the U.S., he figured out a way to flash-freeze food, and started General Seafood Corporation, which began selling frozen foods to the general public on March 6, 1930 – exactly 83 years ago today. You might say Birdseye had a really good view (ha-ha), as he went on to develop freezer grocery display cases and cellophane wrappers for frozen food, and used insulated rail cars to ship his products across country. Altogether, he held over 100 patents, and was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.

Freezing is an excellent way of preserving foods, and thanks to its convenience and economic value, the frozen food industry is a multinational, multi-million dollar industry.

I'm sorry, but the White House decor is hideous!

I’m sorry, but the White House decor is hideous!

We can actually thank Ronald Reagan for National Frozen Food Day. The Great Orator had a soft spot for salisbury steak, and in 1984 passed a proclamation declaring that March 6 would forevermore honor frozen foods. This is one of the few food holidays that can be linked directly to the Oval Office. “I call upon the American people to observe such a day with appropriate ceremonies and activities,” said The Prez, and who are we to argue with a former leader of the free world? For today’s food challenge, Tara and I heated up frozen TV dinners for lunch.

Frozen Food

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