In 1954, Swanson introduced a frozen turkey meal in a three compartment aluminum tray. It was created as a quick-prepare meal to be combined with television viewing. At the time of its introduction, television itself was a new and exciting medium. Appropriately, the meal was named the "TV Dinner."
The man behind the idea was Gerry Thomas. The inspiration for the TV dinner was from an unexpected source - 520,000 pounds of excess turkey.
During a business flight, Thomas noticed the airline was using single-compartment metal trays to serve food. He thought up the idea of packaging Swanson's excess turkey into a frozen meal that could be conveniently and quickly heated. He coined the term "TV dinner" as a marketing gimmick due to the explosive popularity of television at the time.
The original TV dinner featured turkey in cornbread dressing and gravy, buttered peas, and potatoes - packaged in a three-compartment aluminum tray. Retail Price: 98 cents.