TV dinners have been around a very long time and are celebrated on September 10 each year. They are convenient for people who don't have time to cook a traditional meal which takes much longer than heating up a pre-packaged frozen meal in the microwave. TV dinners date back to 1953 when C.A. Swanson & Sons introduced the first Tv Dinner. Since then, any frozen meal that comes in a tray is called a TV dinner. Because of this long-standing tradition, the original Swanson TV Dinner tray was put into the Smithsonian Institute Museum of American History in 1986.

Theories about the name

Many people think the term TV dinner comes from the fact that it is usually eaten while sitting in front of the television. That was a pastime for families in the 1950s when TV dinners first came out. That is just one theory about the origin of the term.

Another theory is that the earlier package did have a picture of a television on it. A third theory is that the meal was placed in sections resembling what a television set looked like in the 1950s. The meat is the main part of the meal, and that resembles the screen. The smaller sides of the tray that hold the vegetables and dessert look like the speakers and controls. That surely wouldn't apply to modern flat screen television sets today.

Today, there are several names assigned to the pre-packaged meal. You would know what people are talking about if they called it a ready-made meal, a frozen dinner, a frozen meal, or a microwavable meal.

Not all TV dinners

Today, all pre-packaged, frozen meals are called TV dinners no matter which shape the tray is in. The meals come in trays that are square and in plastic bowls.

It is convenient to prepare the complete meal in a few minutes by heating it. Since it is a single serving, there are usually no leftovers. The tray can be thrown away without any dishes to wash. Rather than saying TV dinners are for lazy people, it is better to say that they are convenient for busy people.

Healthy meals

It is a misconception that pre-packaged meals are not healthy.

While they are convenient, they can be quite healthy. There are many healthy frozen meals in grocery stores. In fact, one is called Healthy Choice. There is also Smart Ones, Lean Cuisine, and Weight Watchers. Gourmet foods, organic, and vegetarian dishes are also available.

We can continue to celebrate what was once a big part of American history with a TV dinner. However, it doesn't have to come in an aluminum tray or be heated in an oven like in the 1950s. Frozen food trays are now made of a material that can be placed in the microwave.