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inventor of TV dinners just died

semmel Jul 20, 2005 06:19 PM

Gerry Thomas, credited with inventing the TV Dinner more than a half-century ago and giving it its singular name, has died at 83.

Thomas, who died Monday after a bout with cancer, was a salesman for Omaha, Neb.-based C.A. Swanson and Sons in 1954 when he got the idea of packaging frozen meals in a foil tray, divided into compartments to keep the foods from mixing.


  1. w
    Will Owen Jul 24, 2005 08:21 PM

    There was a doctor's family across the street whose son was a friend of mine. His parents considered themselves very sophisticated relative to most of the natives of this little farming town, and I remember a couple of occasions when I was invited to stay for supper because they were serving a NEW MODERN TREAT - either TV Dinners or Swanson's frozen pot pies. They were, however, ALWAYS served at the table, en famille - Mrs. Pistorius may have been a Modern Woman, but she by golly knew how a civilized family was supposed to take its evening meal!

    1. b
      BW Jul 22, 2005 06:17 PM

      Don't miss Paul Farhi's "appreciation" in the Washington Post.

      Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

      1. m
        Mnosyne Jul 21, 2005 12:51 PM

        I hear that he's going to be buried in a segmented tray with peas on one side and applesauce on the other!

        1. e
          Ellen Jul 21, 2005 10:42 AM

          As a child, having a Swansons TV dinner, especially the turkey, mashed potatoes, peas and that little apple cobbler was a real treat. I also recall liking their fried chicken and salisbury steak. They also made these chicken croquettes with gravy in a pouch that you heated in boiling water. Scrumptious! That, along with anything that could be made with a can of Campbells soup, comprise most of my childhood food memories. Oh the things I ate.

          1. l
            Leper Jul 20, 2005 06:30 PM

            Semmel, I'd heard that too. (Fortunately in time enough to hit the grocery coming home.) So, tonight in his honor, I am making Pates Fraiches aux Fruits de Mer (Fresh pasta with Seafood), Tournedos Lavalliere (beef tenderloins with bordelaise sauce, artichokes & asparagas) and Blanc-Manger aux Peches (Peach blancmange.) When it's all ready to eat, I'll put each item in it's own separate tray compartment and wolf it down alone in front the TV. (As it should be.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Leper
              Robert Jul 20, 2005 09:03 PM

              I've eaten many watching Disney on Sunday night in the 50's. Cooked some retro versions in the 70's and 80's (always liked Salsbury Steak w/potatoes and peas.) No doubt still influences me. I was a sensitive kid!


              1. re: Robert
                AimeeP Jul 22, 2005 10:15 AM

                That's exactly what we did - Mom would line all six of us up on the floor with dish towels, on which she would place our TV dinners - in front of Disney sunday night. I'd always bart with my brothers to trade my dessert section for thier mashed potatoes.

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