14 Once-Popular Frozen Dinners You Won't Find In Stores Today

tv dinner on tray with remote
tv dinner on tray with remote - Hillwoman2/Getty Images

Frozen dinners are far from unpopular, but they used to be all the rage. There was a time where it felt like everyone in America was sitting down to eat a frozen TV dinner in the evening, with the 1950s seeing an explosion of innovation and popularity for these ready-to-go wonders. Frozen dinners can be made with hight-quality ingredients and their appeal, with the ability to enjoy a meal in mere minutes, has continued to this day — but not all have stood the test of time. There are frozen dinners that were beloved by millions but have completely disappeared from shelves, and entire companies that once dominated the market that are no longer in operation.

Products come and go for many reasons, with some retailers being notorious for removing popular items with barely any warning. This can come down to management of store space and how many people buy their items. In the crowded freezer section, some frozen dinners just don't make the cut. In other situations, frozen dinners have disappeared because the company that made them went bankrupt or was incorporated into another business. Whatever the reason, we're here to take a dive back into frozen food history. ‌

Read more: 14 Of The Oldest Cereals Still On Shelves

Morton Twinkie Suppers

morton frozen dinner advertisement
morton frozen dinner advertisement - Morton

Morton Twinkie Suppers, made by Morton Frozen Foods, were clearly aimed at kids and offered both your main meal and your dessert in one go. Morton Frozen Foods didn't reinvent the wheel with its savory options: The dinners were designed with simplicity in mind, with burger, fries, and corn in one package, and "chicken 'n noodles" (which looks like it was spaghetti and chicken nuggets) in another. The real selling point, however, was the ever-popular Twinkie that was included in every package, which you presumably removed before you cooked the meal for your little ones.

Morton Twinkie Suppers were part of a wide offering put out by Morton Frozen Foods, which was one of the most popular frozen food producers during the mid-20th century. However, its heyday was during the 1950s and '60s, after which people started to drift towards other options. While Morton Twinkie Suppers might have given the company a shot in the arm during the 70s, the increasing popularity of fast food started to put a dent in its profits. It was eventually bought by ConAgra, before the brand disappeared entirely at the turn of the millennium.

Kid Cuisine Cheese Pizza Painter

kid cuisine cheese pizza painter packaging
kid cuisine cheese pizza painter packaging - Kid Cuisine

What's the best way to make kids eat their food? Let them play with it! This was clearly the inspiration behind the Kid Cuisine Cheese Pizza Painter meal, which had a brief period of popularity in the mid-2000s. The idea behind this meal was simple: The cheese pizza came with an additional sachet of pizza sauce, which your kids could use to paint any design they wished onto it. The meal also came with separate cups of chocolate pudding and sliced peaches, the latter of which gave it some hint of healthiness.

Other Kid Cuisine Cheese Pizza Painters came with different sides, like brownies and corn kernels. It was all promoted to your little ones by Kid Cuisine's penguin mascot, a character who has persisted to this day. Unlike some other frozen dinners on our list, Kid Cuisine is still around, but its safe to say that its glory days are now over. What used to be an extensive product selection is now drastically reduced, with the brand offering just a handful of meals, including Popcorn Chicken, Mini Corn Dogs, and All Star Nuggets. ‌

Swanson Original TV Turkey Dinner

swanson original tv turkey dinner packaging
swanson original tv turkey dinner packaging - Swanson

It's hard to talk about frozen dinners without talking about Swanson's iconic offering. The Original TV Turkey Dinner is enshrined in food history as the company's first made-for-TV meal, and the first frozen dinner to make it big. While frozen meals had been attempted before, Swanson put them on the map almost by chance. The Original TV Turkey Dinner came as a solution proposed by salesman Gerry Thomas, who touted it as a way for the company to deal with a massive surplus of frozen turkeys, having overestimated the amount that Americans would want during the Thanksgiving period.

This frozen dinner consisted of three compartments, with turkey and stuffing in one, sweet potatoes in another, and peas in the third. Later versions mixed up the sides, offering whipped potatoes and even a cobbler. All you had to do was thaw them and place them in the oven, before kicking back and tucking in. The popularity of this product (which sold over 10 million units in its first year alone) led to Swanson making more options. However, as with so many other iconic foods, the Original TV Turkey Dinner started to go out of fashion, and the Swanson brand was eventually bought by ConAgra. While it still exists today, it's pretty far from its golden years.

Libbyland Sea Diver's Dinner

three libbyland frozen dinners
three libbyland frozen dinners - HarwellHerbie / X

There was a time when you couldn't escape Libbyland frozen meals, and its Sea Divers Dinner was one of the most eye-catching products it offered. This 70s frozen dinner was aimed squarely at kids, and offered a pretty impressive range of flavors in a single box. With each Sea Divers Dinner, you got an entree of fish sticks, macaroni and ham in cheese sauce, with sides of french fries and corn in butter sauce. You got to finish things off with some chocolate pudding, and even got some "milk flavoring mix" to stir into your beverage.

The box for Sea Diver's Dinner was also pretty impressive: The illustration on the front incorporated a puzzle into it, and popped out to reveal even more fun. Even the tray that the food came in was designed with kids in mind, stamped with the various Libbyland characters to keep your little ones munching. Unfortunately though, like so many discontinued frozen foods, Libbyland came and went quickly. Its popular period seemed to last just half a decade, before it disappeared into the history books. What it left behind, though, was some seriously smart marketing ideas for future companies to learn from to sell their products to kids.

Trader Joe's Burrata, Prosciutto And Arugula Flatbread Pizza

trader joe's burrata flatbread on table
trader joe's burrata flatbread on table - The Tiny Reviewer / YouTube

Step into Trader Joe's at any given time, and you'll likely find an impressive range of frozen pizzas. However, this large selection means that the store has more leeway to swap out pizzas that aren't quite cutting it anymore, like its Burrata, Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread. This flatbread was a slightly fancier affair than your standard frozen cheese pizza, and had a preparation process to match. Instead of just throwing it in the oven, customers had to thaw the prosciutto that came with the flatbread and place it on top once the base was cooked. It also required you to allow the flatbread to thaw for around 20 minutes before placing it in the oven, presumably to develop a slightly more tender crust.

It's unclear exactly why Trader Joe's elected to discontinue this frozen flatbread, as it appeared to be popular with customers. Folks particularly liked its elegant blend of cheeses, which led to a more sophisticated flavor, and the taste of the prosciutto was also a big hit. Unfortunately, though, at some point the store decided that it no longer had space for it in its freezer cabinets, and it's now no longer available.

‌Kraft Frozen Macaroni And Cheese

kraft macaroni and cheese dinner packaging
kraft macaroni and cheese dinner packaging - Kraft

For many people, Kraft Mac and Cheese is the ultimate version of this comforting dish. So when Kraft announced that it was offering this all-time favorite in frozen form, taking much of the prep work out of the equation, it's little surprise that it was a hit with customers. It was an especially attractive option for dinner because Kraft didn't just stop at freezing its mac and cheese, but it also packaged it with breaded chicken nuggets and frozen broccoli, to offer a complete meal with some semblance of health thanks to its veggie content.

However, all good things must come to an end, and the Frozen Macaroni and Cheese did just that. This combo meal was soon removed from shelves without a trace, and while it's listed on certain retailers' websites, it's marked as currently unavailable. Kraft did appear to listen to how much customers liked the frozen version of its mac, however, and it does currently offer some frozen dinners on its website. None of them come with nugs and broccoli, though.

Smokey Robinson's Red Beans And Rice

red beans and rice packaging
red beans and rice packaging - Snack_Memories / X

Celebrities making products are nothing new, but for some reason they tend to be less likely to lend their faces to food products. This is something that singer Smokey Robinson clearly wanted to change with his line of frozen dinners. In 2004, the Motown star created a range of frozen dinners, with some classic Southern dishes on offer. Customers could choose from options like Seafood or Chicken & Sausage Gumbo and Down Home Pot Roast, all of them accompanied by Smokey's smiling face on the box.

His Red Beans and Rice, however, was the one we'd be going for. Packed with andouille turkey and chicken sausage, this was a hearty bowl of food that was ready in mere minutes. Although these meals may seem like a passing fad, Smokey Robinson managed to keep the product line going for a full five years, enough time to build up a loyal fan base of customers. Regrettably, though, by the time 2009 rolled around it was time to hang up the cooking pot and get back to what Robinson does best: Singing. The meals, including the Red Beans and Rice, were removed from shelves, never to be seen again.

Freezer Queen Gravy & Salisbury Steak

freezer queen gravy & salisbury steak packaging
freezer queen gravy & salisbury steak packaging - Freezer Queen

There was a time when you couldn't move for Freezer Queen frozen dinners. The company produced frozen meals for over four decades and in that time, developed a large range of options and millions of devoted customers. Its Gravy & Salisbury Steak was an especially big hit with people, and combined generous portions of meat with a thick savory gravy, that it suggested that it be served in sandwiches or alongside some potato wedges and greens.

Unfortunately, though, things went rapidly downhill in 2006, when its Buffalo plant failed a health inspection. Investigators found that the quality of the plant was incredibly poor, with the conditions being so bad that it could affect both the quality of the food and the safety of the building. The plant was shut down pretty much immediately, and 175 workers lost their jobs. This appeared to have a knock-on effect on both Freezer Queen's ability to stay afloat as a company, and its reputation with the public. What was once a thriving brand sank like a stone and Freezer Queen meals, including its Gravy & Salisbury Steak, were quickly removed from stores. ‌At least Salisbury steak is easy to make at home, even though it takes a bit more effort.

Swanson Chopped Sirloin Beef

swanson chopped sirloin beef packaging
swanson chopped sirloin beef packaging - Swanson

Once Swanson conquered the world with its Original TV Turkey Dinner, it had to start thinking about where it could go next. The answer? Produce more homestyle classics that people would happily consume in front of the television. As such, its Chopped Sirloin Beef meal was born. This frozen dinner was created in 1954, shortly after the Turkey Dinner was released. Like that classic meal, it was packaged in a disposable foil tray with multiple compartments. Alongside your slices of beef, you got a side of golden hashed brown potatoes and individual portions of corn and garden peas, and the whole thing was ready in no time.

Like the other classic Swanson meals, the Chopped Sirloin Beef wasn't destined to last forever. As tastes and technology changed, this meal was nudged out, and when Swanson was bought by ConAgra, it was no more. The closest you'll get to trying this meal now is the Swanson Salisbury Steak frozen dinner, which comes with mashed potatoes and corn, which is available in Canada. Other than that, you'll have to whip up your own chopped sirloin beef meal if you want the same experience.

Kid Cuisine Deep Sea Adventure

kid cuisine deep sea adventure packaging
kid cuisine deep sea adventure packaging - Kid Cuisine

Once upon a time, a surefire way to please your kids was to buy them a Kid Cuisine Deep Sea Adventure meal. This frozen dinner had it all, and combined fish sticks, mac and cheese, and corn kernels into one easy-to-heat tray. One particular selling point of this meal was the candy it had in each box. Every child who ate it got themselves a handful of gummy sharks to finish the meal off with.

Alas, it was not to last forever. Along with some other options that Kid Cuisine offered, its Deep Sea Adventure was discontinued, and is no longer available. Perhaps the company realized that offering candy in a frozen dinner might have been appealing to kids, but likely wasn't giving its product the most nutritious image in the world. The good news, though, is that unlike some other Kid Cuisine options, the Deep Sea Adventure frozen dinner is delightfully easy to recreate yourself. Just cook some classic fish sticks and some Kraft mac and cheese, heat up some canned corn, and pop some gummy candies on the side of the plate. It might be best to give your fish sticks a little extra attention too, considering that some customers pointed out how limp and unsatisfying the Kid Cuisine ones were. ‌

Trader Joe's Chile Relleno

Chile Relleno packaging
Chile Relleno packaging - Lunchtime Review / YouTube

Oh, Trader Joe's. Why must you take away everything that we love? The store has a frustrating knack for removing products that people absolutely adore, and this fact was proven when it took its Chile Relleno off the shelves several years ago. This frozen dinner consisted of poblano peppers stuffed with cheese and topped with salsa (as well as an extra sprinkling of cheese, for good measure). The Chile Relleno managed to hold its own when blasted in the microwave, with the peppers having a good texture to them, and while it was a bit lacking in the spice department it was a serious hit with customers.

The Chile Relleno was also an in-house favorite, with some of Trader Joe's own employees loving this frozen meal. So it was somewhat of a surprise when it elected to remove it from sight without any explanation, and caused some not-insignificant shockwaves in the TJ's customer community. Perhaps as a response to this, Trader Joe's recently debuted a new version of the item, the Chiles Rellenos Con Queso. Although it looks delicious in its own right, it's still clearly a different product, and so may not quite scratch the itch left by the removal of the original meal.

Morton Ham Dinner With Raisin Sauce

morton ham dinner vintage box
morton ham dinner vintage box - Childhood Memorabilia-Vintage Items / eBay

Some frozen dinners have stood the test of time because of their classic tastes, while others have disappeared from view because of their, shall we say, outdated flavors. This is arguably the case with Morton's Ham Dinner with Raisin Sauce. This frozen dinner is from a somewhat unusual period in food culture — the 1960s, when strange tastes and fashions ruled the roost. Morton's meal combined slices of thick pink roast ham with a sweet-savory raisin sauce, and served it with sweet potatoes, buttered peas, and sliced apples, all nestled up against each other in a metal tray.

While this might have satisfied folks in the 60s, at which point Morton was selling vast quantities of its products, tastes got a bit more sophisticated as time went on. The Ham Dinner with Raisin Sauce disappeared when Morton was bought by ConAgra, and it has yet to make a comeback on our shelves. The recipe, too, now exists as a pretty retro affair — although if you want to try it out, it's fairly easy to put together.

World Table Philly Cheese Steak Pizza

world table philly cheese steak pizza packaging
world table philly cheese steak pizza packaging - 4GUESTS USA / YouTube

Walmart is no stranger to creating brands that offer customers a different experience, and this is exemplified by its World Table line. The brand sought to marry world cuisine with local tastes, with a range of snacks, dips, and frozen dinners that kept tastebuds tantalized. Of all of its frozen items, its Philly Cheese Steak Pizza was perhaps its most distinctive: While it didn't exactly stray too far from America's borders with its flavors, it was a crowd pleaser thanks to its generous portion of beef nestling on top of heaps of cheese.

Unfortunately, it didn't last long. World Table debuted in Walmarts across the land in the early 2010s, and although it made a pretty big splash, it's now just a memory. The Philly Cheese Steak Pizza, and World Table's other pizzas like its Fiesta Barbecue Thin Crust, were promptly taken out of stores. The shutdown of the brand was made all the more confusing by the retailer's choice to stock items in stores according to local tastes, which meant it was hard to track what was discontinued regionally and what was discontinued more widely.

Trader Joe's Truffle Mac And Cheese

trader joe's truffle mac and cheese packaging
trader joe's truffle mac and cheese packaging - What's Good at Trader Joe's?

Man, oh, man. Trader Joe's really caused a stir with this one. Its Truffle Mac and Cheese was an immediate hit with customers when it hit the shelves back in the mid-2010s, thanks to its high quality ingredients and great taste. People who tried the dish stated that it was way better than any other frozen mac and cheese out there, thanks to its ability to deliver on its promise of the flavor of five different cheeses and the extravagant addition of truffles in the dish. Its taste was further improved by the presence of crimini mushrooms, which deepened the savory flavor and gave it some nice textural variation.

Sadly, though, Trader Joe's couldn't let us keep it for long. A few years ago, the Truffle Mac and Cheese was discontinued, in a product cull that saw several other favorites like the Mini Cannolis taken from the shelves. This was a move that customers found it hard to forgive the retailer for, and led to some folks improvising their own truffle mac and cheese, using frozen mac and cheese and TJ's Truffle Powder Seasoning. Desperate times call for desperate measures, huh?

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.