In a gelid episode of the Mental Floss series Food History, host Justin Dodd explains the history of refrigeration in the United States, the advent of frozen food, and how these technological advances reduced the time that women spent in the kitchen, leaving them to pursue other interests.
Fridges and freezers were among several inventions often credited with helping liberate women from the domestic sphere. Before the appliances went mainstream, female heads of household had to devote many hours each week to either growing food, preserving it, or taking trips to the market to ensure their kitchens were well-stocked. All the time the fridge saved freed up women to pursue activities outside the home. …Like refrigerators, TV dinners were credited with reducing the time women spent in the kitchen.
Dodd also addresses the rather confusing and convoluted history behind who pioneered the concept of TV dinners at Swanson.
So next time you eat a Salisbury steak and a brownie that tastes a little like green beans out of the same tray while watching The Bachelor, thank Gerry Thomas. Or maybe Gilbert and Clarke Swanson. …Today, the Library of Congress cites both Thomas and the Swansons as inventors. No matter who we attribute the TV dinner to, we should remember that the technology of the mid-20th century deserves a lot of the credit.