The Omaha-based national food production
company that would later become C.A. Swanson and Sons
began in 1898 as Jerpe Commission Co., selling butter and
poultry products locally. By 1928, Carl A. Swanson was
the sole proprietor. Soon sons Gilbert C. and W.
Clarke Swanson would join their father to assist with
expanding the company’s production and distribution operations.
By 1938 the Swanson enterprise. was one of the four
largest creameries in the U.S., and during WWII became the
largest supplier of poultry and egg products to the U.S.
In 1945, the company’s name was officially changed to C.A. Swanson and
Sons. Post-WWII brought significant changes to the country
and to C.A. Swanson and Sons. When Carl died in 1949, his
sons assumed control of the company.
In the U.S., the baby boom was underway and the demand for consumer goods
was on the rise. Household freezers were becoming popular as
homemakers looked for more convenience in the kitchen. The Swansons, experienced in fast-freezing techniques as a result of
a 1923 Birdseye partnership, responded to these growing trends
by introducing a frozen chicken pot pie in 1951. The next year
the company released a complete frozen turkey dinner for 98
cents. The Swansons trademarked the name “TV Brand Frozen
Dinner” for the dinners and designed the product’s packaging to
resemble a wood-grained TV set. The “TV Dinner”, as it would
come to be known, could not have been a bigger success. By 1955
the company was selling 25 million units annually,
and cooking was never the same.
— Diane Snider
DCHS Board Member
Vertical Files, Douglas County Historical Society Library