Things I miss: The Swanson TV Dinner

I remember, as a child, actively wanting to eat! Inexplicably, one of the things I really loved was the Swanson TV Dinner!

During World War II the United States needed a quick and tasty meal that workers could enjoy with minimal preparation after a day in the factory. The meals were so popular that by the 1950s millions upon millions of Swanson TV Dinners were being sold. A nation eating in front of the teevee!

The cardboard turkey! The overly sweet cranberries! Peas! Totally reconstituted mashed potatoes before they got nearly as real tasting as PotatoBuds are today! I could not forget Swanson's Turkey TV dinner if I tried. These were marketed, during my childhood, as a quick and awesome way for a family to all have dinner together, while watching television.


Oh, how I loved me a TV Dinner! Learning to pre-heat an oven, or to set and get the tin tray without burning myself were both big deals as a kid. I was INDEPENDENT and feeding myself!

By the mid 70s there were quite a few varieties, not just the Turkey, Chicken and Beef. I loved the tin tray of Salisbury Steak, which I still remember as a faux-hamburger patty with some sort of gravy. I dream of the weird Apple Crumble dessert thing that came with one of the meals, basically just canned apple and some butter/flour stuff. You could even, if you had a big appetite, get a HUNGRY MAN meal, and get twice the bland, congealed food-stuff!


To kill the TV dinner it took the Microwave. Swanson seemed to resist converting to a plastic/paper/soy material tray that was safe for the new 'Nuclear Oven.' While Swanson paused, they also lost the market. Brands like Lean Cusine and others, offering food that tasted much better and didn't create arcing showers of sparks were preferred.

I miss you Swanson TV Dinners!

Other things we miss