Cool Video about the Rise and Fall of the TV Dinner

TV Dinner

Finding out just how frozen TV dinners got started is kind of an eye-opener since the idea of buying so many turkeys and needing to find something to do with them so that they didn’t spoil. To think that the idea of somehow creating something similar to K rations that were once used for soldiers is a big jump but at the same time it’s still a huge boon for the industry as it gave way to the frozen dinner that would eventually include veggies, fruits, desserts, and even soups in some cases. Swanson’s opened the door for a lot of companies to come surging in and create TV dinners that would eschew the need for so much meal prep and negate a lot of the mess that came with it. But to be honest a lot of us might remember those old crumpled, multi-sectioned containers fondly and some might even still eat from them, but did anyone ever notice that a lot of them seem to start tasting the same after a while? Maybe my taste buds aren’t as sophisticated, but sometimes the food just tastes, plain, as though all the flavor was sucked out of it before the quick freeze that’s supposed to keep them fresh. Maria Trimarchi of HowStuffWorks has more to say on this.

There’s no doubt about that the TV dinner used to be one of the biggest things around and even today it’s not exactly suffering all that much. They’re easier, they’re quicker, and despite the way that some of them taste a lot of people happen to like the convenience. With some foods it’s not as nice since fresh usually does taste better even if it takes a little longer to cook. Frozen rice for instance can’t really hold a candle to freshly-cooked rice, and steamed vegetables usually have a much nicer texture when they’re fresh rather than frozen. But again, that convenience is hard to overlook since cooking usually takes a good amount of time from shopping to prep to actually making the meal and then cleaning up after. Frozen meals are as simple as it gets and one short trip in the microwave is enough to satisfy a lot of people. Plus, over the years the variety has increased exponentially since so many different companies managed to get in on the idea of creating meals that people would like that would take minutes, not hours, to prepare. Some might think that the meals aren’t as good and aren’t nearly as healthy and in some cases they’d be right. In some frozen meals it’s hard to know what you’re eating since there are preservatives and other materials that go into the food to make sure that it doesn’t go bad or otherwise in order to be fit for consumption. But given that a lot of us don’t know half of what’s going into our food unless we grow it or see for ourselves how it’s being made, that’s kind of how it goes. Erika Wolf of Mental Floss has a few other things to say on this subject.

As to the downside of separating people from their families while eating and watching TV, many families still managed to enjoy time together in front of the TV, still talking when their programs weren’t on about their day and anything that might have been of interest. For single folks these dinners are great simply because they don’t usually need to talk to anyone during their mealtime and as a result can sit, Netflix n Chill, and dine without needing anything other than an oven or a microwave to prepare their dinner. Plus, frozen dinners are actually pretty nice to take to work if one has a communal freezer in the break room that will work. In short a frozen dinner might not always be the healthiest option but they’re quick at least and are able to transported easily from place to place.

I’m betting that a lot of people in their forties or older can remember these, perhaps even people in their twenties and thirties. There was a time when being a kid in the frozen food aisle your eyes might linger on the frozen dinners that had been designed with kids in mind. Makenzey Shank of Working Mother has more to say on this matter. The chicken nuggets, spaghetti and meatballs, and of course any of the dinners with the brownie that would glue itself to the inside of the space it was placed in when put in the microwave. It was such a simple pleasure but it was something that our parents might have bought as a treat or because they were pressed for time and couldn’t make anything else. A lot of people remember these things and a lot of folks tend to have their own opinion about them. Frozen meals aren’t all horrible, but they’ve definitely gained something of an ill reputation even if they’re still edible and are still being sold by the millions. Chances are we’ll continue seeing them for a long while to come, if only because they’re another bit of simplicity in a busy life.

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