10 Breakthroughs in TV Dinners

TV Breakfasts
You've heard breakfast is the most important meal -- whether or not that's true, it's a good excuse to make extra frozen waffles. Donald Erickson/E+/Getty Images

Since Americans immediately loved the convenience of TV dinners, it probably was inevitable that "ready meals" for other times of the day would emerge. One obvious target of opportunity was breakfast. Pre-sweetened breakfast cereals were introduced in the 1940s, and Pop-Tarts, the first toaster pastry, in 1964 [source: Smith].

Frozen breakfast foods may have begun with the Dorsa brothers, a trio of entrepreneurs from San Jose, Calif., who devised a waffle-cooking machine in the 1930s and began marketing what eventually became the Eggo brand of frozen waffles, in 1953 [sources: National Archives, Stephey]. Eggo is now owned by the Kellogg Co.

The first full-fledged, multi-item frozen breakfast probably was marketed in 1969, when Swanson -- by then, owned by Campbell Soup -- introduced a line of morning meals. They came in three varieties: pancakes and sausage patties; scrambled eggs with a sausage patty and fried potatoes; and French toast with -- you guessed it -- sausage patties. Swanson's marketing campaign pushed the idea that TV breakfasts restored "the forgotten meal" that housewives had been neglecting to prepare for their families [source: Dougherty].

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