Only a few days remain in “Frozen Food Month.” Have you “celebrated” yet with a frozen dinner and a nice glass of wine?
Take a stroll down the frozen food aisle at your neighborhood supermarket, and you’ll notice that frozen dinners claim more shelf space than any other frozen food.
Or to put it another way: Frozen dinners are hot! This should come as no surprise, given the pace of life in America today. Few people have time to prepare meals from scratch anymore, and frozen dinners provide not only convenience, but also great variety.
“Forget the old-fashioned TV dinner featuring Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy,” notes Redbook magazine. “Today, you can find ethnic, vegetarian, low-calorie, supersized, natural, and organic meals on your frozen food aisle. Some of the latest frozen meal choices include paninis/grilled sandwiches, gluten-free meals, and steamer bowls.”
We have creative cooks in frozen dinner company test kitchens to thank for that. But none of it would have been possible without Clarence Birdseye, the man who invented and developed a method for quick-freezing products in convenient packages without altering the original flavors.
Birdseye knew a thing or two about “preservation” because he was a taxidermist by trade. He got the idea for preserving food from the people of the Arctic, who preserved fresh fish and meat in barrels filled with sea water, which quickly became frozen simply by placing them outdoors.
In 1923, Birdseye perfected his flash-freezing method. Six years later, he became a rich man when Goldman-Sachs and the Postrum Company (which later would become General Foods) purchased all of the related patents and trademarks for $22 million.
The next year, Birds Eye Frosted Foods were introduced to the public. Now, nearly a century later, the recipes and flavors are far more sophisticated, and we mark Birdseye’s contribution to more convenient living each March through Frozen Food Month.
Here are six of today’s most popular frozen dinners, accompanied by our wine pairing suggestions:
• Healthy Choice Cajun Style Chicken and Shrimp — Syrah, off-dry Riesling, or sparkling wine.
• Lean Cuisine Sundried Tomato Pesto Chicken — A dry rosé-style wine, or (red) Zinfandel.
• Smart Ones Thai Style Chicken Rice Noodles — Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Torrontes.
• Healthy Choice Sweet Asian Potstickers — Riesling or Gewurztraminer.