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September 10: TV Dinner Day

It’s TV Dinner Day. On this day in 1953, C.A. Swanson & Sons landed upon a bizarre new idea, namely a prepackaged aluminum tray you could just stick in an oven for 45 minutes or so and boom: you have a “dinner” with all the fixings, including turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes and buttered peas. All for under a buck. It was an instant hit, with Swanson selling 10 million of the turkey dinners in 1954 alone. It was a major leap in culinary laziness. As the name suggests, the whole idea was to eat them on a folding  tray table (remember those?) while gaping at that new appliance creeping into America’s homes, the television. And you certainly didn’t want food preparation cutting into your TV time. So you’re probably wondering, did anyone ever put in play the ingenious idea of including a beer with these meals? I mean, it seems like a natural, doesn’t it, because whenever you think of someone eating one of those Hungry-Man TV dinners, you always picture that solitary creature with a beer in his hand. Possibly a Hamm’s or a Schlitz. Something retro. Well, the answer is no. The idea has been considered, but they would have to add something to the beer for it not to freeze, and they thought that the idea of drinking antifreeze might alarm some consumers. There is an apricot-flavored craft beer called TV Dinner, but frankly, I don’t get the connection.



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