September 10 is national TV dinner day! While the frozen meals were served on airplanes, Swanson introduced America to their TV Brand Frozen Dinner. These dinners came in a container designed to look like a television with the food featured as the screen in 1954. The dinner cost 98 cents and consisted of turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes and peas.
The frozen dinners were marketed as an extreme time and energy saving addition to the modern kitchen. Taken straight out of the freezer, mom could pop the meals into the oven and just 25 minutes later remove the foil cover and serve. With no pots, pans and/or plates to wash.
Swanson began with a production of 5,000, but in one year they had sold a whopping 25 million TV dinners! The next year, Swanson increased their line by adding fried chicken, meatloaf and Salisbury steak options. In 1960, a fourth compartment was added so a heated dessert could be included.
Originally the trays were made of sturdy foil and covered with tin foil and cooked in the oven. Now, the trays are made of heat-resistant plastic–crystallized polyethylene and sealed with cellophane to allow microwave cooking.
Divided Microwave Plates With Lids ~ make your own TV dinners
Over the years many changes were made to frozen meals including the larger serving Hungry Man dinners, as well as ethnic and vegetarian choices. In 2012, Lean Cuisine’s health-conscious brand outsold the rest of the single-serve frozen dinner market with 20.7 percent of the sales.