Monday, April 19, 2010

There's A TV Dinner In My Soup...

...And there's a soup in my TV dinner! What on earth is that doing there?

Sure, this is just what people are going to want in a TV Dinner that they are balancing on a tray while watching  - well, TV. Because you must watch TV while eating the TV Dinner! It is mandatory.

But soup is not mandatory. It is, in fact, messy. It does not belong in an easily-bent, wobbly aluminum tray. Especially if it is tomato soup. People did know that this was not haute cuisine or a multi-course Sunday dinner. The combination of frozen food items plus cheap aluminum tray was kind of a giveaway. So why bother with soup? I think that there was some little deal between Swanson's and Campbell's Soup and - I don't know. Maybe this was the Campbell's people's Big Dream: to co-star in a Made-For-TV Dinner.

The soup in this particular advertisement is as solid as those mashed potatoes. More solid, really. It looks - jelled. Real soup wobbles around and sloshes onto your lap and on the couch and all over the TV Guide. And you know that it never looked as tidy in reality - you'd take it out of the oven and there would be soup all over everything. And that's even before you got it out of the kitchen. I found the following montage of 60s and 70s TV Dinners over at YouTube and you can see that a couple of them include - the horror! - chicken noodle soup! It looks even worse than the tomato to me.



You won't be surprised to learn that this was available only for a short time circa 1968. I don't recall this at all, and I was quite the TV Dinner aficionado in the late 60s. Does anyone remember these?

21 comments:

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

Oh honestly! Thats awful and I don't remember that at all... and the last thing I want is soup that gets just hot enough to melt and slosh all over everything but not hot enough to be really hot ... sounds like a lukewarm mess if you ask me!

1950's_atomic_ranch_house said...

Hmmm, ate my fair share of aluminum-trayed TV dinners but nope, don't remember any soup.

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

It confounds me that my mouth actually watered while watching the video. I've got to be kidding me!

But those fries, I can taste 'em.
Those crunchy pieces of chicken, I can smell 'em. And the classic turkey dinner? I remember it well.

Now, what shall we do about my mental illness?

FreshHell said...

I ate a lot of these, too, but don't remember soup. There was also an obscure brand for children that my mom used to buy.

Ah, granulated and reconstituted mashed potatoes. God Bless America!

JD at I Do Things said...

I don't necessarily need dessert (or soup) in my TV dinner, but why do are all the desserts so nasty? Where's the chocolate pudding? It's always apple crumble or berry crumble. I hate crumbles.

Oh, god. That fro-din montage featured a meatloaf so unnaturally red it made me wonder if I was looking at a severed hand in blood sauce.

Now that's appetizing.

tahtimbo said...

I remember the chicken dinners and the mac and cheese, but I never saw the soup (thankfully!!). I mean, what were they thinking: tomato soup (which is acidic) + aluminum tray = Ewwwww!! Not to mention, as you pointed out, most would end up on the floor as it sloshed out of the tray.
Now, the mac and cheese was great. I loved it when it got that slightly-burnt crust on the top...yum.

Lidian said...

Tracy - I agree entirely.

1950s Atomic Ranch House - Yeah, me too. And I KNOW I would remember soup. Eww.

Kathy - The brownie in the meatloaf dinner was really good, too.

FreshHell - You said it! And I remember canned spaghetti, canned baked apples (a weird pink, those were) and canned creamed chipped beef - alas.

JD - But the brownie was really not bad! In the meat loaf dinner (I realize that I already said this but, but - it was the best TV Dinner dessert around - actually, it was the only even-decent one)

Tim - Oh, that's true - the tomato and the acidic tin tray is a definite Ewww. I never had the mac and cheese, but when my mom made it the brown-almost-burnt top really was the best bit.

Eric said...

What will they think of next? I'll bet that's the kind of soup that astronauts would eat in front of the television.

Tori Lennox said...

What kind of dessert did they have in this meal? It looks kind of like canned dog food....

Bill said...

What a bad, bad idea. I have no recollection of soup in a TV dinner. And what was the point? Canned soup is the other lazy meal, anyway.

I LOL'd just a little at the German-Style Dinner shown in the clip. Fancy-Schmancy.

Dr. Julie-Ann said...

Mystery solved! Campbell Soup bought out Swanson in 1955.

Doesn't mean that soup BELONGS in a frozen dinner but it explains why Swanson thought it should be included.

(I don't remember the soups being in the dinners, either)

Bossy Betty said...

I don't remember the soup, but that fried chicken is still in my arteries!

kathcom said...

Oh my God! That soup looks like a block of Velveeta and the dessert is apple cobbler-ish, not the cherry goo I loved so much as a kid. You know, since that stuff didn't have high fructose corn syrup in it, it would probably be considered a health food now....

Mimi said...

That tomato soup reminds me of the "Friendly Aspic" I made on my retro WW blog last week. It is downright putrid. I wonder if the TV dinner "soup" was jellied like the aspic? Nasty. Just nasty.

I ate a LOT of TV dinners growing up. The mashed potatoes were my favorite part.

Gayle Herbert Robinson said...

Oh yeah, I remember those. (he-he!) Especially the two piece chicken dinner. Once I told my mom I wanted to try a TV dinner, that was the end of that. She'd make dinner for my Dad, but since I was the youngest and the last one at home,(and she was tired of making dinners for a family of 7) I saw and ate a lot of TV dinners.

feefifoto said...

You bet I remember those, and I loved them! The tray had this little aluminum door you'd lift off after cooking (or before? That part I don't remember) and I ate a lot of them. Really available only in 1968? I would have sworn I ate them for years.

Janna said...

In a weird sort of way, I'm actually nostalgic for the days when TV dinners came in shiny aluminum trays.

I don't remember soup in them, but I do vaguely remember turkey/gravy/potatoes, and possibly fried chicken and french fries.

What?
There were brownies?
I missed the brownies!
This might be because I hated meatloaf when I was a kid.

Marcheline said...

Wow - this made me miss my dad. He loved TV dinners. It was a big deal when we got to eat and watch TV at the same time. My mom was a big "proper dinner at the table" supporter.

I'd give anything to eat a TV dinner with my dad again, even if it had soup in it.

SJ Elliott said...

I remember this TV dinner and I liked the soup. The stuffing was very mushy, not like it is today...in fact I thought it was much better...and the dessert was the best. It was my favorite. Probably because I had to eat all my dinner every night and this is the one dinner that had everything I liked. So maybe the soup did not seem so bad compared to my mother's homecooked meals.

twobabies said...

I definitely remember the chicken noodle soup. It was circa 1975ish, I was about 7 years old and living in St John, NB at the time. I distinctly remember sitting in the living room, which almost never happened, watching Bewitched and eating this gigantic meal. Salisbury steak and chicken noodle soup!

CATRYNA49 said...

As a child there is no way we could afford to buy TV dinners. We ate whole wheat bread, from our garden and what our dad brought home from his monthly scuba diving trips; fish, abalone, crab and lobster. Poor us (ha). I would take what I was raised on over TV dinners, any day. I have tried TV dinners, as an adult from time to time, and they are awful, even the "health food" ones. And, tomato soup in an aluminum tray; now that's a scary thought.