Stories by DCHS Board Members, Volunteers and Staff
© 2009 The Douglas County Historical Society






Carl Swanson


   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. military.
   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

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