Gerry Thomas

Gerry Thomas

Birth
USA
Death 18 Jul 2005 (aged 82–83)
Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 11392923 · View Source
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Inventor of the TV Dinner. During World War II, he was an Army Intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star for securing critical Japanese code documents on Okinawa. He would also claim that he ate dinner with famed correspondent Ernie Pyle at his last meal, and was next to Lt General Simon Buckner when he was killed. During the mid-1950s he was a marketing executive for Swanson Corporation, a poultry packing company, and came up with the idea to package a full dinner, for serving while watching the new device called television. His innovation was developed as a means of getting rid of surplus turkeys left over from Thanksgiving. In a later interview, he stated he got the idea from seeing metal disposable trays being tested by Pan American Airlines for serving hot meals while in flight. From his World War II experience as an Army Lieutenant on Okinawa, Thomas changed the tray from a single compartment to three compartments, separating the meat from the vegetables to keep them from mixing while cooking. Thomas coined the term "TV Dinner" as a marketing gimmick, linking the meal to public excitment over the new broadcast medium. Swanson had already had success with meat pot pies, which had been introduced in 1951, and in early 1954, began the first TV Dinners, initially selling them for a reported high cost of 98 cents. Over ten million of the dinners were sold the first year. When the Swanson Company was acquired by the Campbell Soup Company, Thomas became a Sales Manager, and later the Director of Marking and Sales. He retired in 1970, following a heart attack, and later directed an art gallery and did consulting work. (Bio by Kit and Morgan Benson)

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Created by: Kit and Morgan Benson
  • Added: 20 Jul 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11392923
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gerry Thomas (1922–18 Jul 2005), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11392923, ; Maintained by Kit and Morgan Benson (contributor 46483611) Unknown.