Humanities › History & Culture The History of TV Dinners Share Flipboard Email Print Jason Horowitz/Getty Images History & Culture Inventions Famous Inventions Famous Inventors Patents & Trademarks Invention Timelines Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated August 13, 2019 Gerry Thomas, a salesman with the Swanson food company, claims credit for inventing the Swanson TV Dinner in 1954. Swanson TV Dinners fulfilled two post-war trends: the lure of time-saving modern appliancesthe fascination with a growing innovation, the television Swanson TV dinners were the first commercially successful frozen meal. More than 10 million TV dinners were sold during the first year of Swanson's national distribution. For $.98 per dinner, customers were able to choose among Salisbury steak, meatloaf, fried chicken, or turkey, served with potatoes and bright green peas; special desserts were added later. The food groups in a TV dinner were displayed neatly in a divided metal tray and heated up in a conventional oven. Goodbye TV Dinner, Hello Microwave Swanson removed the name "TV Dinner," from the packaging in the 1960s. The Campbell Soup Company replaced the aluminum trays of Swanson frozen TV dinners with plastic, microwave-safe trays in 1986. Today frozen dinners are offered by a variety of brands, including Stouffer's, Marie Callender's, and Healthy Choice. Going Down in History In 1987 the original TV Dinner tray was placed in the Smithsonian Institution to commemorate the tray's impact on American culture, sealing TV Dinners' place in American cultural history. Celebrity figures from Howdy Doody to President Eisenhower touted the dinners. In 1999, Swanson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Pinnacle Foods Corporation, the current owners of Swanson products since 2001, recently celebrated fifty years of TV Dinners, and Swanson TV Dinners still remain in the public conscience as the dinner phenomenon of the 50s that grew up with television.