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Boob Toob Dinners

Unless there was a really big football game on, my mom basically forbade chuffing in front of the teevee. Therefore, there was no particular dish that was a go-to staple for television dining. But I imagine most famblies were not like that.

So what about yous guys? Did you have Swanson's or did mom whip up a batch of tuna noodle casserole when it was time for Gilligan's Island to air? Was there any special dish-to-show pairing in your home?

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  1. No we weren't allowed to watch TV while we were eating...the exception being my father and football on Sunday, if he happened to be home. But he sat at the dinner table with it on in the background, eating whatever was the meal of the day. I might be a little younger than you though? There were only 3 or 4 channels then, and TV wasn't a major part of our life.

    3 Replies
    1. re: coll

      We're about the same age. When I was a little spark, there was NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS. No Home Shopping Newwork. No porn.

      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        UHF stations were around before PBS.

        There was no eating in front of the TV at my house. TV dinners (a special treat) were eaten at the dining room table like all dinners.

        1. re: Perilagu Khan

          Same here, and if you went out of your area, the programming was totally different.

      2. we got to eat in front of the tv if and only if there was a national geograpic or jaques cousteau special on. it was never a tv dinner from a box. something like the afore mentioned tuna casserole, maybe burgers, or spaghetti - something that you could eat from a plate on your lap, nothing that required cutting.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Oddly enough, we had frozen dinners often enough (I loved the Swanson turkey), but they were always served at the table.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            "tv if and only if there was a national geograpic or jaques cousteau special on."

            Children's dinners after 8:00 pm? As children, we were only up after 8:00pm the night the Flintstones were on - and then (according to my sister) only when Dad was out.

            1. re: FrankJBN

              Our family always ate dinner at 7pm, which - at that time - was when the specials came on in the San Francisco area, an hour after most people ate dinner.

              And if anyone is wondering I liked and still like tuna casserole, guess my mom made a good one. I should ask her if she added anything special, no peas or other frozen veggies, and never a crunchy topping. It was always served with some kind of vegetable on the side, or maybe some sliced pineapple.

          2. Only Saturday night. Hamburgers, chips and (dread) either canned baked beans, canned Mac and cheese or canned wax beans. PBS in chicago was channel 11. I think before UHF...first channel 32.

            1. No eating in view of the television until I wa in high school. When I was in ninth grade we moved to a new home that had a television in the kitchen. Then it was tuned to NBC news at breakfast. No television during supper, that was time for family conversation. We did not eat lunch at home.

              We never ate frozen TV dinners as you mentioned, they were not available in kosher varieties in the 50s and 60s. We had television in the den and bedrooms, but no eating was allowed outside of the kitchen or dining room.

              The sole exception, each New Year's eve from the time I was 7 until I was 16, my father would bring home a cheese apizza from Sally's on Wooster Street in New Haven, and I was allowed to eat it on a paper plate in the den while waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square (while watching Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians from the Waldorf Astoria in NY).
              To this day, we don't allow eating in rooms besides the kitchen or dining room. There is a television in the kitchen, but the rule is that it may only be watched if only one member of the family is in the kitchen. Two or more means time for family conversation. My kids eat frozen prepared food, but wife and I eat food we've cooked from scratch, although we do freeze portions for convenience.

              BTW, my mom never made tuna noodle casserole in her life.

              1. No dinner in front of tv in my house. Dinner was at 6 pm, with all family members around the kitchen table. The only exceptions I can recall were Super Bowl Sundays and New Years Day (back when all the big bowls were played that day).

                We never had frozen TV dinners either. I remember begging my mom to buy me one (there must have been a great advertisement behind that). She finally relented and she was right, I hated it.

                We only had 2 TVs in the house: the living room and the basement. And the second was really only to keep the peace on Friday evenings when, IIRC, Brady Bunch was on at the same time as Wall Street Week was on PBS. (And yes, we had the 3 networks, PBS and 3 UHF stations.)

                1. The television was off during dinner but even if it were on you wouldn't have been able to watch it- dinner was in the diningroom and television was in the livingroom. No exceptions.

                  My Mom isn't super formal but she insisted on good manners and watching something instead of focusing on the people you were eating with was considered rude. (If we were children today it would be "No phones at the table," and the rule would be enforced.)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    Manners certainly have changed. (Or disappeared.) I routinely see couples in restaurants, each zombied into their iPhones, robotically shoveling something into their slack jaws, and totally ignoring one another, unless they are actually texting one another. And I have seen that, too.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      the iPhone thing disturbs me too, but considering some of the conversations I have heard in restaurants, maybe it's better if some people stick to their iPhones.

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        Yes, some people are meant to be seen (if that) and not heard.

                  2. No TV while eating - ever. Now, mom eats dinner in front of the tv every meal.
                    ....... and the "have to eat everything in order to get dessert" rule has been forgotten too.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                      Your Mom must know mine. I remind her of our childhood days, we were only allowed one show per day, although there were six of us so it wasn't as bad as all that. But she did monitor us. Now she has flat screen TVs in every room, all going at once! And still has the biggest sweet tooth in the universe; since she's cutting back, she dines on appetizers and then straight to dessert. Merry Christmas Mom!

                      1. re: coll

                        My moms sweet tooth has evolved to the point where now she needs a "lunch dessert" too. Neither dessert is very big so I don't give her too much grief, but it's still funny how the rules have changed...... Even the "no snacks between meals" rule - she calls it "grazing" now.

                        1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                          My Mom also eats small meals all day long, picks on whatever she wants but often freezes what's left so she can resist finishing it off for a few days.

                          As you get older, your tastes often change (physically, not emotionally) and some oldsters stop eating completely unless prodded. But not Mom; at 81 years old, she lives on her own and goes out to eat with friends her age constantly. I am so glad she still has such a good appetite.

                          1. re: coll

                            she is not only blessed to have such a good appetite, but good to have friends who are able to go out and enjoy along with the food.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              I just pray that I'm half as healthy as her in twenty years! And have half the social life. She's been getting annoyed lately that her friends are slowing down and not always available anymore.

                    2. We turned off the TV and the stereo at dinner time when I was growing up. I still do, too. I like peace and quiet while we eat.
                      We did have TV dinners in the freezer sometimes, and pot pies, but I don't remember eating them for dinner. They must have been for lunch.

                      1. These things were heavily advertised, of course. There was no rule against watching TV but the TV was rather removed from the dining table, a 13 or 14" screen at the far end of a very large den. Mother had just gone back to work, looking ahead to the time when paying for a college education for my brother and I would be a big burden, and she was eager to get some relief from cooking every meal from scratch, so we not only tried a goodly variety of them, we got the flimsy, folding trays so we could dutifully actually sit in front of the TV. It quickly became apparent they didn't live up to the hype and they were consigned to the emergency meals category, the trays serving as ad hoc side tables and only brought out otherwise when there was a big family gathering and a need for extra seating. As I recall, the 'cobbler' type desserts became a running family joke. Swanson was overwhelmingly the brand of choice; it may have been the only brand available, I'm not sure.

                        In my own laziness over the years I have tried other frozen dinners including the regrettable Banquet and El Chico, but I've only been able to bring myself to try Swanson's Pot Pies, which aren't bad as best I can remember - I just can't bring myself to try any of the other Swanson products.

                        1. When we got our first TV I was about twelve. Three channels. My father was only home in Sunday nights basically for ever. He would allow the family to watch the Ed Sullivan show then Bonanza b/c those were the shows HE wanted to watch and we'd eat dinner on those fold away 'TV' tables then he'd leave for the week and we'd go to bed.
                          Now for the hilarious part: Every Sunday night after we'd gone to bed he would 'secretly' remove a tube from the back of the TV so no one was able to watch the TV until he came home and 'secretly' replaced the tube. He told us never to touch the TV for fear of a "thrashing" and he'd know if the TV had been touched. This worked for about a week. My mother didn't even know about the missing tube. Anyway, one day I guess she was cleaning behind the TV and noticed the back had been removed and hidden behind something somewhere. One of her friends had a husband in the TV repair business. He came over and told my mom that there was a tube missing and he gave her one. He showed her how to install it which she did. From then on when we came home from school Monday afternoon the TV worked and we sat in front of it and had 'TV' dinners mom made. This went on all week. On Sunday mornings my mom would remove 'her' tube and when my father came home he'd 'secretly' put 'his' tube in the TV and we'd all sit and watch Ed and 'Big Hoss'. This went on for a couple of years until my mother had had enough and insisted us kids should be able to watch TV occasionally during the week.

                          1. Defnitely no TV during dinner. We ate in the dining room and there wasn't a TV anywhere nearby (nor in the kitchen - lucky there was even a radio). The only time we ever were allowed to eat in the "playroom" (on TV tray tables) was when my dad was away on business.

                            I used to let my kids watch while eating, but realized that was a horrible habit and we stopped. Now we're a TV-free-meal-zone.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jbsiegel

                              We did have a large transistor radio in the kitchen that we often listened to at lunch when I came home from school and dad came home from work. Nice memories of Campbell's soups, Chef B, and baloney and cheese sandwiches with mom, dad and little brother.

                            2. We only had 3 channels (4 if the weather was clear) until I was about 16 or 17 so TV wasn't a big thing for us. The only time we got to watch TV while eating dinner was when the power went out and we hunkered down in the basement for some sort of storm. Mom was a little paranoid... It was a great adventure for us though. Cereal at night! Eating in the basement! While watching TV! Could it get any better?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Hobbert

                                Your mom sounds like my paternal grandma. She's spy a puffy, little cumulus cloud 150 miles away and call my mom demanding that she "git those little 'uns over here and into the storm cellar!" Mom wearily obeyed; I loved it!

                                1. re: Hobbert

                                  call me curious, but how did you watch TV when the power went out?

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    Valid question :) It was a small battery operated TV. I can't imagine how many batteries it must have taken.

                                2. No eating in front of the TV for us either. In fact there was pretty much no TV. We were allowed 1 hour on Friday nights and 1 hour of Sat morning cartoons. As a family we watched Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and the Wonderful World of Disney.

                                  Today my family has pretty much the same rules. No dinner in front of the TV except for the occasional pizza/movie night. Our son gets an hour of screen time a day (that includes TV, computer, video games, etc) and 2 hours on the weekend.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                    Loved both of those shows.

                                    And it sounds like you've very much got your priorities and your house in order. Kudos.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      Thanks! Sometimes its hard because so many of his friends have unlimited access and a few also have unlimited access to gaming. Um, they are rated T and M for a reason. You are not a teen and not even close to mature, LOL, so no you can NOT play Assassins Creed III.

                                      And then again sometimes its hard on me when I just want to turn on the electronic babysitter to get some peace and quiet!

                                      I do have to say I was totally jealous of my friends who got to eat those Swansons TV dinners- the one on a foil trays with little compartments. You peeled off the corner with the apples before putting them in the oven. They took forever to cook but I would beg to have sleepovers at those houses!

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        I lived on those Swanson dinners for a while. I loved them. The beef with gravy and peas and the chicken ones were my favorite. I loved the powdered mashed potatoes. (That is in fact what one of our daughters brought to yesterdays Christmas dinner. She did add the water a heat the flakes up at her house though. LOL She's a very busy person and we all enjoyed them.) I swear if some one offered me one today I' d eat it! Sometimes I was so hungry I'd dump the whole works in a fry pan, except the desert. It was as if I had made the meal all on my own in a weird way. 'Heat and eat'. Sometimes I'd throw two dinners in the pot. LOL

                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                            Even the "Hungry Man" sized TV dinners were not quite big enough for me. If I were to buy those puppies today, I would have to get two.

                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan


                                              My cousin used to say "No wonder he's a hungry man if this is all he gets to eat."

                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                Yes, those clearly were not designed with the American man in mind.

                                                In grad school I had a roommate who was from Japan. One evening we went to supper at a restaurant and I ordered a rack of ribs. When my plate arrived, Toshi's eyes got big as silver dollars. He asked incredulously, "Are you going to eat all of that?"

                                                "Sure!" says I.

                                                He replied, "My mom would have fixed that for our entire family."

                                                The Hungry Man would have suited him just fine.

                                    2. The only time I was allowed to watch TV at dinner was when there was a Pippi Longstocking movie on.

                                      Ah, the good ol days...

                                      1. We were never allowed to eat in front of the TV however a good friend of mine who grew up in America had a Sunday night tradition to watch the family Sunday night movie with Shakeys pizza and KFC for their meal.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: RetiredChef

                                          Not a bad tradition. But back in those days it was called Kentucky Fried Chicken or Colonel Sanders. Forgive me, but I detest acronyms.

                                        2. We had no TV while I was still at home, but we often listened to the radio. In those days (late 1940s-late '50s) classical or "light" classical music was usually programmed around midday Sundays or some weekday evenings between 6:00 and 8:00, and we'd listen to that; other evenings it'd be a comedy show or serial drama. The ONLY people I knew who watched TV while eating was a family who owned a café, and they'd have their family supper at their own table sometime after whatever dinnertime business they had was done. I would sometimes drop in, buy a Payday bar and a soda pop and watch with them from the counter.

                                          We never had TV dinners, that being both an extravagance and obviously inferior even to our poverty-level fare. Mom DID make a good if unadorned tuna-noodle casserole, which I have gussied up quite a bit without necessarily improving it.