By Garland Pollard
While I think I ate more Banquet (an RCA subsidiary) and Morton frozen dinners, Swanson has taken the crown of being the official “retro” TV dinner. And why not? They invented the name.
I liked the Salisbury Steak the best. That’s why I showed it in the picture at right.
Pinnacle Foods Corp. now owns Swanson, and is keeping the brand around. They have done a fantastic job with their other iconic brands, including Duncan Hines, Mrs. Paul’s, Armour, Aunt Jemima, Celeste, Log Cabin, Lender’s, Vlasic and Van de Kamp’s. They have collected the brands as refuse from other foods companies, and remade and revitalized them.
The history of the TV dinner on Wikipedia gives the antecedents to the meals; they are not so much inspired by television as they are inspired by an airline meal, or so they say. I always did like the ones with the apple pie, though the cooked “bread” was never too good.
I do miss so many of the foods that need to be boiled in a bag. Do they still have those? Can I get some Salisbury steak from a bag? Or better to bake it in a plastic tray? Oh the problems people had in the 1970s. A bit of history:
In 1944, William L. Maxson’s frozen dinners were being served on airplanes. Other prepackaged meals were also marketed before Swanson’s TV Dinner.
Later, in 1952, the first frozen dinners on oven-ready aluminum trays were introduced by Quaker States Foods under the One-Eye Eskimo label. Quaker States Foods was joined by other companies including Frigi-Dinner
Swanson adopted the clever advertising name of “TV Dinner,” which tapped into the public’s excitement around the new device.
Sure is exciting. But they are even MORE fun with a nested set of TV tables.