National TV dinner day
September 10th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

Freeze! September 10 is National TV Dinner Day.

If you're too tired to cook and just feel like vegging out in front of the TV, you’re not alone. According to the American Frozen Food Institute, the average American eats six frozen meals a month.

The term TV dinner, or more specifically TV Brand Frozen Dinner, is a registered trademark to C.A. Swanson & Sons, and has been since 1954. While Swanson didn’t invent the compartmented meal, they are credited with being the first to mass market it. The idea of separated tray compartments for food was already being used by airlines.

Originally they were packed in aluminum trays and heated in the oven, but as microwaves became more popular, the aluminum ones were done away with. Over time, the name TV dinner has been dropped in favor of “frozen meals” or “microwave meals."

The very first TV dinner available was an ode to Thanksgiving and consisted of turkey, peas, sweet potatoes and cornbread dressing. Eventually meals like Salisbury steak, meatloaf and fried chicken were added. Desserts were included on the trays in 1960.

In 1987, a representative tray was added to the Smithsonian to honor the TV dinner’s impact on American culture.

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Filed under: Breakfast Buffet • Food Holidays • News

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    My TV dinner consists of a home made meal I make from scratch, no frozen processed food for me!

    September 11, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  2. Paul

    I have eaten Healthy Choice TV Dinners for a long long time. They are a way to eat and control what you are taking in. For about the past year every time I put one in the Microwave we seem to end up with a mess as a result of the desert. It always boils over creating the mess. My friends have also mentioned this so its not just me. I have brought this up to the Healthy Choice people but I have not seen any improvements. Just an FYI ...

    September 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  3. APaws

    My associates at work regularly put little meals they pull out of frozen boxes into the kitchen microwave. I really don't see how they can eat that stuff - the smell as they are heating them is a horrid chemical-laced reek of ... I don't even know!... it just smells nasty! And the thing is, for the cost of those frozen atrocities and the few minutes it takes to stand by the microwave to nuke them, they could have prepped an awesome, delicious, real-food lunch.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  4. sha

    We used to eat these once in awhile when my Dad was away on a business trip. It gave my Mom a break from cooking. They were definitely a treat because we actually got to eat them on TV trays in front of the television. My dad would never eat those and would never have tolerated the TV watching during dinner. I was crazy about the fried chicken dinner with the mashed potatoes and frozen peas, corn and carrots. I didn't care for the sweet thing. I used to trade it for someone else's vegetables.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  5. AleeD®

    Funny how that dinner in the photo used to be a treat when we were kids. Looks not-so-appetizing now.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
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