Cooking,  Culinary History,  Dinner,  Feast,  Food History,  History

Feast of History: Space Age TV Dinners

To kick off our month long series about food and entertainment, I thought the best place to start would be with TV! Television has been around since the late 1930s, but it didn’t reach its heyday in the American culture until the 1950s and 1960s. This was right as the US entered the space race and began to broadcast the events of the new space program. Color television appeared later on and the golden age of films and tv programs dawned.

Along with the dawning of this new way of entertainment, came the dawning too of prepackaged foods, heat-and-serve meals, processed foods and quick mixes. The housewife could now spend less time making dinner and more time with her family. Time saving, modern and new were the catch words of the day when it came to food. And if the family wanted to, they could spend their time around the TV enjoying the new TV dinners.

TV dinners were one of many new frozen food products that came out in the 1950s and 60s. Frozen foods had been made popular by the Birds Eye company who invented the first machines to freeze food in the 1920s. In 1954, Swanson TV dinners capitalized on the frozen food idea and became the first successful frozen meal. 

If you would like to recreate the TV dinner idea, here are some foods that were commonly found in TV dinners of the day. If you can find easy to hold, divided plates or trays and divide the food into portions, this would make the experience more authentic.

  • Meatloaf
  • Fried Chicken
  • Turkey and Gravy
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Spaghetti
  • French Fries
  • Apple Cobbler
  • Brownies
  • Fruit (Apples, Peaches, Pears in syrup) or Applesauce
  • Blueberry Muffins

And to make the experience even more authentic, why not spend an evening watching an old show? I am personally a huge fan of old shows. 🙂 Here is a list of some great ones from the 1950s and 1960s to get you started!

  • Mission Impossible
  • The Twilight Zone
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek
  • Get Smart
  • I Love Lucy
  • Leave It To Beaver
  • Bonanza
  • The Roy Rogers Show
  • Lassie
  • Gunsmoke
  • The Andy Griffith Show
  • The Beverly HillBillies

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