TV Dinners

Turkey TV Dinners started out with a full Thanksgiving meal but later added other entrees. A still later version added an extra square space for a small dessert offering.

Q. What state raises the most turkeys?

A. Minnesota (OK, that was a gimme. The questions will get harder.)

Q. What does Thanksgiving have to do with the birth of TV Dinners?

A. Legend has it that individually packaged frozen dinners—aka TV Dinners—were invented in 1953 after an employee of Swanson mistakenly ordered 260 tons of turkeys for Thanksgiving—much more than the company could sell at the time. To deal with the leftovers, a traveling salesman copied the way food was served on airplanes and came up with a plan to fill 5,000 aluminum trays with turkey, dressing, gravy, peas and sweet potatoes, each in its own compartment.

Q. What was the brand name of frozen entrées sold by Frozen Dinners Inc in the late 1940s, mostly in the Pittsburgh area?

A. One-Eyed Eskimos (I think you can see why that name didn’t catch on.)

Q. What is the busiest day of the year for plumbers?

A. Yep, the day after Thanksgiving. Calls are mainly for drains and garbage disposals, but toilets make plumbers flush with cash as well.

Q. What does the wobbly red flesh at the top of a turkey's beak and a woman's ornamental hairnet have in common?

A. They're both called "snoods."

Q. What day historically (prior to this year) is the single biggest day for bar sales in the U.S.?

A. The Night Before Thanksgiving (when all through the house, too many creatures were stirring, with too many mouths, relatively speaking.)

Q. Native Americans brought deer to the first Thanksgiving feast. Why then did turkey become the protein of choice for the holiday?

A. The wild turkey is native to North America and was thus uniquely suited for this family holiday, which can sometimes get a bit wild depending on if those cousins once removed, show up again.

Q. How much did the first Thanksgiving TV dinners cost?

a. 99-cents

b. 98-cents

c. $1.19

A. 98-cents (Rounding up prices to end with 9 so that consumers thought they were spending less came later.)

Q. Which word(s) describes the early commercials for TV dinners:

a. Filmed in non-appetizing black and white;

b. Sexist

c. Effective

d. All of the above

A. That would be D.

One of the early commercials was two men discussing the virtues of TV dinners: After a busy day at the office, he could come home at any time and his wife could pop a frozen one in the oven and he’d have a “swell dinner ready in 25 minutes. Lucky me, my wife makes Swanson Dinners. Make your husband lucky too!” Bon Appetit and hide the rolling pin.

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