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TV Dinners

Updated on June 22, 2013

TV Dinners

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I grew up on these. When I was really small they were a treat on nights when it was just me and my mom at home. I remember watching the Muppet Show and having my mother take the turkey TV Dinners out of the oven and we sat and watched and ate. That was before microwaves were a common household appliance. Once I got into middle school and we did have a microwave they became an easy way for me to "cook" for myself. In high school I think I had a Chicken Pot Pie just about everyday for a while. I know, I know, just don't think about the sodium content. Come to think of it, if it weren't for TV dinners I would have starved by now.

Image: Buy this TV Dinner, 1954 Print at

The Story of Swanson TV Dinners

Straight from the Pinnacle Foods website

In 1954 television's popularity was sweeping the nation and freezers were also becoming common in many households. Gerry Thomas, a sales representative for C.A. Swanson & Sons, proposed launching a frozen dinner that would take advantage of these trends - and help reduce a surplus of Thanksgiving turkeys the Company had on hand. Gilbert and Clarke Swanson agreed to the idea and in 1954 Swanson, the original "TV Dinner" went into full production and sold 12 million cartons.

Swanson through the Decades

  • 1950s Swanson TV Dinners were introduced to Americans
  • 1960s Desserts were added to the meals
  • 1970s A line of Swanson breakfasts was introduced
  • 1980s The entire dinner line was repackaged for those new fangled microwave ovens
  • 1990s Swanson was recognized as one of America's most popular brands
  • 2000s Swanson was re-launched as Swanson Classics, the "Original TV Dinner"

Beyond Swanson's Brand

All these years later and I still buy Swanson frozen meals, but they no longer have the monopoly in my freezer. I've expanded my repertoire to now include Marie Callender's and Stouffer's various sub-brands. Hey, they are quick, they fill you up and you'll never get bored with all of the choices out there.

Stouffer's Dinner Club

Have you heard about the Stouffer's Dinner Club?

When you are shopping look for the packages with the Dinner Club logo on it. Printed inside the boxes you will find a code that you can enter on their website. Each box's code is worth 20 points. You also receive 100 points when you sign up. You can earn a little more by answering their poll and


Here's the website -> Stouffer's Dinner Club

Save up and redeem your points for items from their Rewards Catalog.

400 Points

Buy One, Get One Free Coupon for Stouffer's Corner Bistro Panini

500 Points

5 song downloads

25 prints from

600 Points

Reuseable Grocery Tote

Stouffer's Branded Pot Holder

800 Points

Coupon for 2 Free Stouffer's Corner Bistro meals

1,500 Points


1-Year Magazine Subscription

2,000 Points

2 Movie Tickets

Or, you can redeem 1,000 points to make a $10 charity donation to Feeding America.

And if you've joined Stouffer's Dinner Club tell us how many points you've got so far. ;)

TV Dinner memories to share? Favorite meals now?

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      jgelien 8 years ago

      My mom bought a lot of those pot pies when I was growing up. I hated them. What I did like, oddly enough were the TV dinners that had mashed potatoes. As a kid I thought they were spectacular. They were kind of chewy on the edges, creamy and salty in the center. Thanks for the memories.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 9 years ago from Michigan

      My earliest recollection of TV dinners extends back to 1957. They were around before then, but my mother was skeptical. By today's standards, they were really pretty awful and pretty skimpy. But they were novel...and even a little kid like me could stuff one in the oven for 35 min-40 minutes. Almost every meal in our house was made from scratch...but the Swanson Turkey Dinner (with those thin, dry slices) would see service maybe once every couple of weeks. Personally, I preferred the more exotic Patio Enchilada Dinner or the Chinese Dinner (can't remember the brand, offhand). Thanks for bringing back those enjoyable memories with this great lens. Favoriting and rolling it to my funny Laftovers food fridge magnet lens.

    • profile image

      poutine 9 years ago

      When I was growing up, we only had home cooked meals.Now, it's a different story. Once in a while, my husband and Ithrow a frozen dinner in the micorwave and voila! Dinner is ready!.Poutine

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      Would you believe that it has been ONE year of TV dinners lunches for me since I've been on Jenny Craig. Everything, literally, came in a frozen box save a couple of pantry items. Just microwave and serve. Love your lens.

    • Teacher Adez7 profile image

      Teacher Adez7 10 years ago

      Hi Christine, I love this lens. Pot Pies are my favorite. 5*'s from me for a job well done.

    • joanv334 profile image

      joanv334 10 years ago

      Hello, love your lens! I'd like to have one of those 50's TV Dinner packages to display in my kitchen! 5 stars

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 10 years ago

      This brought back a lot of memories! We get most of our frozen stuff from Trader Joe's now, but I have a few Stouffer's favorites too. Their fettucine is great.

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 10 years ago

      Oh that's funny GrillGirl!I just warm up water in the microwave and then throw in a tea bag. I'm a bit too attached to my microwave. HA

    • GrillGirl profile image

      GrillGirl 10 years ago

      What a great lens idea. I cook from scratch most of the time, but I remember when I burned tea. Yep. If you boil all the water out of the pan, the bags DO catch on fire. Sigh.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      What a wonderful, entertaining lens! Believe it or not, and I am telling you the truth, I had a TV dinner for lunch today. Found it in the freezer and it just seemed like a good idea. It wasn't my favorite Swanson's turkey, but it hit the spot. Strange, maybe, but I love TV dinners! 5 stars!