National TV Dinner Day

Observed on September 10th annually, National TV Dinner Day is a holiday where everyone is allowed to microwave their favorite frozen dinner and simply relax and enjoy it. Although TV dinners have received a bad rap over the past few years, the modern TV dinner is actually a marvel of modern food processing and packaging. These dinners have been around since the 1950s and continue to be a popular food choice 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 preparation.

The History of TV Dinners

To discuss the history of TV dinners, we must first visit the beginning of the frozen food industry. And for that, we have to go all the way back to 1925. In that year, Clarence Birdseye invented the machine that was designed to revolutionize food storage. This technology was first used by Maxson Food Systems of Long Island to create complete frozen dinners for the airline industry. The next plan for Maxson Food Systems was to sell frozen dinners in supermarkets, but that plan was scrapped when the company’s founder, William L. Maxson, passed away.

Frozen dinners were eventually conceived by Gerry Thomas, a salesman for the Swanson company. The company had 260 tons of frozen turkeys left over after Thanksgiving, and they were stored in about ten refrigerated railcars. Since the train’s refrigeration only worked while the cars 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 trying to figure out what to do with all that turkey, Thomas suggested packing it with stuffing and sweet potatoes in a format that people could cook in their own ovens. 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 from 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 dinner trays were marketed beginning in 1986.
  • In 1962, Swanson removed the phrase “TV Dinners” from their packaging.
  • The fact that the aluminum trays used for TV dinners in the ’50s looked futuristic might have been key to their success.
  • In 1960, dessert was added to the TV dinner.
  • In 1973, Swanson introduced Hungry Man Meals—TV dinners that had larger portions.

Observing National TV Dinner Day

National TV Dinner Day is 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 (2024)
September 10 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
September 10 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
September 10 Sunday
Food & Drinks