National TV Dinner Day

Observed On September 10th annually, National TV Dinner Day is a holiday in which everyone has the permission to nuke their favorite frozen dinner and just kick back and enjoy it. Although TV dinners have got a bad rap over the last few years, the modern TV dinner is actually a miracle of modern food processing and packaging. These dinners have been around since the 1950s and continue to be a popular food item for modern consumers. With that said, if you’re a big fan of the TV dinner, then take the time to celebrate it on this day and save yourself some mealtime prep.

The History Of TV Dinners

In order to discuss the history of TV dinners, we first have to go to the beginning of the frozen food industry. And to do that we have to go all the way back to 1925. In 1925, Clarence Birdseye invented the machine that was designed to revolutionize the storage of food. This technology was first used by Maxson Food Systems of Long Island to make complete frozen dinners for the airline industry. The next set of plans was for Maxson Food Systems to create frozen dinners to be sold in supermarkets, but that plan was canceled when the company’s founder, William L. Maxson, died.

Frozen dinners would eventually be conceived by Gerry Thomas, a salesman of the Swanson company. The company had 260 tons of frozen turkeys left over after Thanksgiving, and they were all stuck in about ten refrigerated cars. Since the train’s refrigeration only worked while they were moving, Swanson had to have the trains travel back and forth between its headquarters in Nebraska and the East Coast. As the executives at the company were racking their brains to try to figure out what to do with all of that turkey, Thomas suggested packing it alongside stuffing and sweet potatoes in a format that people can cook in their own ovens. And that’s how the TV dinner was born.

Facts About TV Dinners

Want some easy-to-heat facts about TV dinners. Well, we’ve just retrieved a few of them out of the freezer, so that everyone reading this can enjoy National TV Dinner Day in style with some frozen food trivia.

  • The first TV dinner contained turkey, sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, and peas. It sold for 98-cents.
  • TV-dinners were originally in aluminum trays that had to be heated for at least 25-minutes.
  • Microwave-safe TV dinners trays were marketed beginning in 1986.
  • In 1962, Swanson removed the phrase “TV Dinners” from their packaging.
  • The fact that the aluminum trays that were used for TV dinners in the 50s looked futuristic might have been a key to their success.
  • In 1960, dessert was added to the TV dinner.
  • In 1973, Swanson introduced Hungry Man Meals—TV dinners that had bigger portions.

Observing National TV Dinner Day

National TV Dinner Day is a day that’s best celebrated with a quality frozen-dinner and a beverage to wash it down. While you’re enjoying your TV dinner, don’t forget to use the hashtag #NationalTVDinnerDay on your social media accounts. Let everyone know just what type of TV dinner you like to eat for this holiday.

When is it?
This year (2023)
September 10 Sunday
Next year (2024)
September 10 Tuesday
Last year (2022)
September 10 Saturday
Food & Drinks