Banter Bites

TV Dinners – No TV Required!

Enjoying your favorite TV show and your favorite foods at the same time … what could be better?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: What could be more basic (and nostalgic for many) than the TV dinner, although who would’ve thought something so simple could generate such different reactions from Red & Black?


As a kid, Red loved TV dinners (and truth be told, she still does, but hates the calorie count), especially because she found it a perfect combination of comfort food (with her favorite being fried chicken), convenience, and everything arranged perfectly,

I remember them having four compartments – a meat, two veggies, and dessert. Usually apple cobbler. But as long as there were mashed potatoes, I was happy.

But what made her even happier? The compartments in the aluminum trays! (It’s hard to believe they were replaced with plastic microwave-safe trays 40 years ago.) As weird as it might sound (and as much grief as Black has given her about this for decades), Red used to have a “thing” about her food touching. Not to mention, she had a habit of eating her food one item at a time. Which made TV dinners ideal for her, and regardless of what they might have been named, Red used to love eating them at any time of day. Or night!

Mention TV dinners to Black, and she’ll agree they’re perfect … as an example of brilliant marketing. She’s fascinated by the fact that frozen meals were not a new idea, but they just had never gained traction, until 1953 when television was a new phenomenon. But the connection was due to Swanson, the frozen food company, greatly overestimating demand for Thanksgiving turkeys that year, and was desperate for ideas,

The story goes that a salesman suggested turning the turkeys into frozen dinners using three-compartment aluminum-foil trays similar to what airlines used for in-flight food service. But, the key was tying the marketing campaign to the new must-have prestige appliance – the television. Even the packaging was cleverly designed to look like mini-TVs, including tuning knobs (you have to be a certain age to remember those).

Black wondered if they had any idea how successful “TV dinners” would become, or that they forever changed how people ate their meals – making it acceptable to eat in front of the TV instead of gathering around the dining room table. Red, on the other hand, had never thought about either of those things, preferring to reminisce about the simple joys of TV dinners.

However, when Red learned there was a National TV Dinner Day, she decided the best way to celebrate would be to stroll through her favorite grocery store’s frozen food section and buy at least one … for old time’s sake. And whether it became dinner, lunch, or a just a snack, she’d savor the mashed potatoes and enjoy it … in front of the TV.

Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.

For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There's so much one can say about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968, and whose leadership was fundamental to the ending of legal segregation in many parts of the United States. But regardless of your position on segregation, it's almost impossible not to acknowledge, yet alone appreciate, how incredibly powerful and inspiring his words were and the impact they continue to have on the civil rights movement. But don't believe us. This goodreads post provides more than just a good read, it's a seemingly endless list of inspirational quotes while a great "refresher" course on Dr. King is available at History.com.

We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?

National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.

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Another year and another National Clean Your Desk Day (yes, that’s actually a thing). So, is Red’s desk any better than the “disaster” it was last year? Well, believe it or not, it may not be perfect, but it’s significantly better. Is it because she finally listened to Black’s advice (see below) or somehow found a “secret” of her own? As it turns out, it was a combination of the two as Red discovered, even if the rest of her life isn’t “nice and neat” (that’ll never happen), she loves walking into her workroom in the morning and starting the day in a (somewhat) organized space, which provides the best motivation for keeping it that way. (Luckily, Black never brought up the science of messy desks.)

A day to clean up your desk?! It will take way more than a day …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: No one is immune from piles of paper, not even Black, the master of organization, but there’s a huge difference between a desk with a few small piles and some scattered papers (although her laptop’s keyboard needs serious cleaning) and Red’s “workroom” that usually looks like a tornado hit it.

Which is why Red rolled her eyes when Black mentioned today’s National Clean Your Desk Day, as it’d take her significantly more than a day to “clean up this mess,” but then she remembered Black’s advice on how to keep her piles (and piles) of paper under control and felt inspired. Red admits often feeling like she’s drowning in paper, but that’s because she lets the piles get out of control before reminding herself of Black’s very easy, straightforward approach to turning her mountains of paper into small manageable hills. And, significantly reducing stress along the way, because as Black points out,

Sometimes, it is more important to know what you are ignoring than it is to deal with everything in the piles.