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.
No matter what holiday you may celebrate, Red can’t help but quote a line from one of her favorite Christmas songs, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on, your troubles will be out of sight.”
And Black can’t help but point out that the song wasn’t introduced in a Christmas movie but in the movie "Meet Me In St. Louis."
Wishing you a merry everything and a happy always!
This is one of Red’s favorite Banter Bites in large part because of Black’s “corny” puns, but also because fresh corn is a summer staple – whether cooked on the grill or in the microwave, whether eaten on its own or as a primary ingredient in refreshing summer salads …
This may be one of the corniest things you’ll ever read.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It’s just a vegetable, so how can it possibly elicit such a strong reaction from Red, while, for Black, it’s more a source of amusement and even, it turns out, admiration?
Corn. That’s what immediately came to mind when Red started receiving emails from Dewberry Farm about its annual fall festival. It was a family tradition when the girls were growing up, and between the fun but often frustrating corn maze (she and the girls were lost for a few hours one year), the corn cannons, and all the other activities, it was a marathon day that always seemed to be the unofficial start to fall (even if the day meant 90+ degree temperatures since, after all, it’s Texas). Of course, enjoying all the incredibly delicious food, like freshly popped kettle corn, from outdoor stands made it even more special.
And Black’s reaction to all these corn-related memories? Red was expecting sarcasm, but not this,
I knew I would get an ear-ful from you but am glad you did not send any corny jokes. Given how much you love fall, and everything associated with it, I expected many kernels of truth in your sentimental memories. However, I have one question, I am sure it was ear-ie when you got lost in the maze, but did you feel like you were being stalked?
The funny (not punny) thing is that Black’s comments, although somewhat out of character, reminded Red of our dad and his endearing sense of humor. So, when Black added that as long as Red had brought up the subject of corn, she might be interested in the Corn Kid, Red thought she was referring to a goat that ate corn. Until she discovered the best corn story – about how a little boy who simply loved corn became a viral sensation. (Red also loved his appearance in a Chipotle video because she, too, loves their corn.)
And Red could relate to the Corn Kid’s love of corn,
I never realized how much I love corn, not only for its taste but for all the memories associated with it. Whether turning a can of cream corn into soup (just add a little milk) when I was recently sick and realizing that I hadn’t had it since our mom made it for me as a kid. I know food triggers many memories; for me, it’s corn (including candy corn), although my love of popcorn is about more than memories!
Think you can avoid artificial intelligence? Think again …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red already fights technology at every turn, preferring to keep her ostrich head in the sand, plus, she finds Artificial Intelligence (AI) scary; whereas Black knows ignoring reality merely postpones the inevitable, so she’s started playing with AI to understand it better …
Red knows that she has the ability to learn how to use technology, so tries not to default into freakout mode. However, when it comes to AI, it’s an entirely different story, and she lets her theater degree and love of movies take over,
AI reminds me of the 1968 movie “2001 A Space Odyssey,” the computer named HAL, and the potential of machines to harm vs. help us. And while some, ok many, people might accuse me of being overly dramatic … am I?
Usually, Black would tell Red that her theater degree’s showing and to calm down. But when it comes to generative AI (it “studies” existing data and generates “new” content), many of the leading experts, including the “Godfather of AI” and one of the creators of ChatGPT (a leading AI system where users can pose questions) are the most vocal critics. They’re warning us of the potential dangers of the technology and the need to slow things down and have guardrails in place.
Unfortunately, Black knew that taking emotion out of the equation and focusing on the pragmatic would not ease Red’s mind, but that didn’t stop Black from explaining,
AI can be used to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems but wherever there is opportunity for good, there can also be bad actors. I have played with it and seen firsthand how quick and easy it is for AI to generate intentional misinformation (including visual images) that seem plausible and real.
So, do we need to be worried? Well, as AI becomes more integrated into our lives, it will be critical for all of us to understand what it can and cannot do … meaning critical thinking will be more important than ever.
P.S. This content was NOT generated by AI. It was created by human authors (although Red claims Black’s a Vulcan) without the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms.