TV Dinners Exist Because They Killed Way Too Many Turkeys One Thanksgiving

By | November 15, 2022

Too many turkeys, not enough mouths


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Source: WSBTV

As ZZ Top once said, "TV dinners, there's nothing else to eat. TV dinners, they really can’t be beat." It's a succinct argument for the quick meal of the everyman. TV dinners may look simple---a bit of frozen meat and veg with a snack on the side that anyone can pop in the oven and enjoy---but the creation of these one-and-done meals isn't as straightforward as their simplicity suggests. The TV dinner has a backstory worthy of a feature film or a six-part investigative series on the ID network, full of claims about turkey genocide, a possible corporate con man, and a marketing campaign that helped Swanson take the early lead in the race to become the number-one name in the TV dinner market.

It All Started In 1953

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source: swanson

Today, the proliferation of frozen foods in the supermarket is an accepted way of life, something that a person can pick up for a quick and easy meal after a long day at work. That wasn't the case in the 1953. According to Gerry Thomas, a former Swanson executive, the great gobbler crisis of that year inspired him to dream up tide-turning frozen project. After Thanksgiving 1953, the Omaha-based Swanson were up to their necks in beaks; they were on the hook for 520,000 pounds of frozen turkey and no way to unload Ben Franklin's favorite bird.