TV Dinners Helped Change How Women Spent Time at Home
by Matthew Gilligan
If you’ve ever doubted that food has a significant impact on our lives, here’s yet another example that it is 100% true.
TV dinners were invented in 1952 when the people at Swanson realized they had 520,000 extra pounds of turkey after Thanksgiving.
A Swanson employee named Gerry Thomas came up with the idea for TV dinners after he noticed the metal trays airlines were using to keep meals warm. In 1954, the company debuted its new frozen meals.
Technological advances in home refrigeration meant huge changes for Americans. By 1944, 85% of homes had a refrigerator and later in that decade home freezers became common.
These advances specifically meant big changes for American women.
Before refrigerators and freezers were the norm in households, women spent a lot of their time making sure that food was ready to go for their families: this meant growing food, preserving it, and regularly going to the store to ensure that food was fresh and would be eaten before it went bad.
All of that went out the window with modern refrigerators that had freezers. And this meant American women had much more free time to pursue other activities and interests, including jobs.
And TV dinners meant that a lot of time spent preparing meals wasn’t necessary all the time anymore, either, freeing up even more of women’s time.
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