#132 Peas & Carrots

132 Peas & Carrots
#132 Peas & Carrots
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Well, that’s what hap­pened to those ear­ly TV din­ners after you took them out of the oven: the veg­eta­bles & mashed pota­toes (or what­ev­er that white stuff was) were hard­ly sep­a­rat­ed by the com­part­ments in the alu­minum trays, and would inad­ver­tant­ly cross over to mix with each oth­er. The gravy would also get into the act some­times, too. 

Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner was Swanson’s original TV Dinner, 1953

Sumptuous, and how! Have you ever seen such a Thanksgiving spread? See how ultra-​white those potatoes look? They really were that color! Notice how the package resembles a TV screen. From the Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine, January 20, 1957.

To me, that was the sec­ond best part of the TV din­ner fla­vor, where the dif­fer­ent foods would inter­min­gle. (It’s prob­a­bly why I like peas & mashed pota­toes mixed togeth­er.) But my favorite sen­sa­tion was the smoky fla­vor of the mashed pota­toes that always got burned on top, cre­at­ing a tasty, crispy crust. Of course, that meant that the veg­eta­bles got singed too, giv­ing them the fla­vor of today’s trendy roast­ed veg­eta­bles. (Were TV din­ners ahead of their time?) Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it also meant that in selec­tions such as “Roast­ed Turkey with Stuff­ing” the “stuff­ing” was more like toast where it got burnt, espe­cial­ly when it did­n’t even get mixed with the gravy in the pro­duc­tion line. (Is that why I also like my toast and Eng­lish muffins charred all the way to black?)

Named & marketed for an entertainment phenomenon

from Wikipedia:

The first Swanson-​brand TV Din­ner was pro­duced in the Unit­ed States and con­sist­ed of a Thanks­giv­ing meal of turkey, corn­bread dress­ing, frozen peas and sweet pota­toes[3] pack­aged in a tray like those used at the time for air­line food ser­vice. Each item was placed in its own com­part­ment. The trays proved to be use­ful: the entire din­ner could be removed from the out­er pack­ag­ing as a unit, the tray with its alu­minum foil cov­er­ing could be heat­ed direct­ly in the oven with­out any extra dish­es, and one could eat the meal direct­ly from the tray. The prod­uct was cooked for 25 min­utes at 425 °F (218 °C) and fit nice­ly on a TV tray table. The orig­i­nal TV Din­ner sold for 98 cents, and had a pro­duc­tion esti­mate of 5,000 din­ners for the first year.

The name “TV din­ner” was coined by Ger­ry Thomas, its inven­tor. At the time it was intro­duced, tele­vi­sions were sta­tus sym­bols and a grow­ing medi­um. Thomas thought the name “TV Din­ner” sound­ed like the prod­uct was made for con­ve­nience (which it was), and the Swan­son exec­u­tives agreed.

Wikipedia arti­cle (ver­ba­tim)

New & exciting: dessert!

Dessert was introduced in 1960. Note the 99¢ price. What’s interesting, is you can still find TV dinners on sale for 88¢, over 50 years later. 

In 1960 a small com­part­ment was added between the veg­eta­bles and pota­toes which con­tained anoth­er course: dessert! It was usu­al­ly some­thing like a choco­late brown­ie or fruit cob­bler. I always looked for­ward to the dessert, but some­times it was a total fail­ure when, unlike the deli­cious acci­den­tal com­bi­na­tion of peas & car­rots & pota­toes, it turned out to be peas & car­rots & apple crisp & mashed pota­toes. (The apple crisp was nev­er crisp, either — always mushy or down­right burnt.)

Innovation & end of a deliciously baked (or burnt) era

Around 1967 the microwave oven forced the TV din­ner tray to switch from alu­minum to plas­tic (unless you want­ed to destroy both your din­ner and your brand new appli­ance) . I miss eat­ing out of a met­al tray (I have no idea why), but the real down­fall for me was how the food tast­ed after it was cooked. No more over­baked pota­toes, no more scorched stuff­ing. Once in awhile I’ll pur­chase a TV din­ner (when they’re on sale for 88¢) and I still missed those fla­vors. (I almost placed a microwave TV din­ner in the oven once to relive that fla­vor but real­ized my dumb idea in time. Burnt pota­toes, yes; burnt plas­tic, no.)

Amana Radarange 1976

Amana Radarange circa 1976.
Image from the​hen​ry​ford​.org

To this day, peas & car­rots is one of my favorite veg­etable side dish­es. Some­times I even make it my main course. In fact, some­times I’ll fin­ish off peas & car­rots & mashed pota­toes in an oven to get that burnt fla­vor and crispy crust. Much as I love fresh & frozen peas, I detest the fla­vor of canned peas. (No, I don’t slice and dice my own like I should.) 

Do you remember the original TV dinners where all the compartments mixed everything together?

Or the excit­ing new dessert com­part­ment? Do you miss the old alu­minum trays like I do? Ever blow up your microwave like I almost did? Share your mem­o­ries with fel­low amper­sand fans & TV din­ner fans.

 Please comment here.

Production notes for #132 Peas & Carrots:
Original size: 20x30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator (main illustrations and typography), Photoshop (to modify background watercolor paper)
Font: Desyrel (duplicate letters slightly modified)

Ampersand: watercolor images deposit​pho​tos​.com, pea & carrot shapes by Chaz, watercolor paper background by psd​graph​ics​.com
watercolor images deposit​pho​tos​.com
watercolor paper background psd​graph​ics​.com
Swanson Turkey Dinner package: boing​bo​ing​.net
Swanson Turkey Dinner print ad: thewritelife61​.com
Family with TV dinner tray (and TV): i0​.wp​.com/​w​w​w​.​m​o​r​t​a​l​j​o​u​r​n​e​y​.​com
Amana Radarange: the​hen​ry​ford​.org/​c​o​l​l​e​c​t​i​o​n​s​-​a​n​d​-​r​e​s​e​a​r​ch/
Articles about the TV dinner:
You may repost the image & article. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#117 See & Be Seen

#117 See & Be Seen
#117 See & Be Seen
Click image to view full size or download poster for gallery-​quality printing & framing.
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There are some people you see & just can’t forget.

These peo­ple make an impres­sion on you with their out­ra­geous fash­ion style.
Or they are extreme­ly like­able because of their gen­uine, dynam­ic per­son­al­i­ty.
Per­haps they blow you away with out­stand­ing cus­tomer ser­vice.
Or maybe they are just the most intel­li­gent per­son in the world.*

But what if you meet someone who is all of the above? 

Well, I did meet that per­son. His name is Saul Colt. & this is what he wears:

To match these:

As worn by Saul (he’s on the left):

Why is this guy so memorable?

I got to know Saul near­ly ten years ago, as some­one who real­ly cared about find­ing a solu­tion to a quirky prob­lem I was hav­ing with my timekeeping/​billing account, which is Fresh​Books​.com (whom I’ve hap­pi­ly been with over ten years). At the time Saul was on the Fresh­Books staff, as their mar­ket­ing genius & all-​around keep-​the-​customer-​happy guy.

A year or two lat­er, I received an invi­ta­tion to attend a din­ner with fel­low Fresh­Books users in a trendy Hol­ly­wood restau­rant (named Ketchup — red, of course). Din­ner was excel­lent & meet­ing oth­ers who loved Fresh­Books as much as I did was fan­tas­tic. The Fresh­Books crew was there, too, includ­ing Saul Colt. Unbe­liev­ably, he remem­bered me from our short online chat a cou­ple years ear­li­er. But what real­ly blew me away (and made Saul unfor­get­table — besides his glass­es & ten­nis shoes, of course) was his heart­felt response when I divulged that I prob­a­bly should­n’t be a guest at their expen­sive din­ner, as I was still at the free lev­el of ser­vice. He said, “We’re just real­ly glad you’re using Fresh­Books & thrilled to have you join us.” I will nev­er for­get that & I’ll nev­er for­get Saul.

(Short­ly there­after I was using Fresh­books to prac­ti­cal­ly run my busi­ness, & I was get­ting paid on time like nev­er before. I even­tu­al­ly signed up for the paid account, & for $14 per month it’s been my best invest­ment. If you want to know more about them, drop me a line or vis­it Fresh​Books​.com & try it free. This is not a paid advert; I just love Fresh­books!)

Even­tu­al­ly Saul branched off & found­ed The Idea Inte­gra­tion Co., sky­rock­et­ing clients’ busi­ness­es with his unique gift of pro­mot­ing their brands & retain­ing their clients. He has been named as one of the iME­DIA 25: Inter­net Mar­ket­ing Lead­ers & Inno­va­tors & cit­ed as one of Canada’s best com­mu­ni­ty builders/​experiential mar­keters. Chris Bro­gan once referred to Saul as “exact­ly who you want rep­re­sent­ing your com­pa­ny.” 

Years later, not forgotten

From time to time Saul still helps out Fresh­Books with their honest-​to-​goodness (& high­ly appre­ci­at­ed) efforts of keep­ing their cus­tomers hap­py & suc­cess­ful. A few months ago I received anoth­er email from Saul. This time it was an invi­ta­tion to not one, but two din­ners on his dime. One was for the Fresh­Books “fam­i­ly” & the oth­er was for his friends in Los Ange­les. He stat­ed adamant­ly that I should attend both because I belong to both! Is that gen­er­ous & from the heart, or what?

Dresden Room, HollywoodI could only attend the Fresh­Books group, but am I glad I did! It was at a his­toric Hol­ly­wood restau­rant, the Dres­den Room, & you could feel the pres­ence of Bog­a­rt, Ben­ny & Berle. I’ve been to a lot of clas­sic restau­rants but this was a first. What an ele­gant, mag­nif­i­cent evening, again with old & new Fresh­Books friends. I even stayed after din­ner to check out the retro-​style enter­tain­ment in the lounge. (The Blood & Sand is their sig­na­ture cock­tail.) 

Thanks again, Saul. As a trib­ute to this mem­o­rable guy, I cre­at­ed Amper­Art #117, See & Be Seen, & saved it for Valen­tine’s Day. After all…

Hearts are passé
For Valen­tine’s Day
Here’s some­thing else red
For you instead

Hey, it must be Saul!

*Saul pro­fess­es he’s the most intel­li­gent per­son in the world. I tend to agree. Or at least, he’s the world’s most mem­o­rable.


chaz sez ...

My blog, chaz sez, will soon be a month­ly fea­ture at
Des​i​moneDesign​.com (my pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design web­site). It’s most­ly about design, typog­ra­phy, print­ing, pub­lish­ing & mar­ket­ing — and what it means to do those things prop­er­ly & pro­fes­sion­al­ly — but on occa­sion I’ll divert to a side­ways top­ic that just can’t escape my rant­i­ng & raving…like the Uike logo.



Production notes for #117 See & Be Seen:
Original size: 20x30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator
Fonts: Antique Olive
Ampersand: Antique Olive
Shoe: Nike Air Force 1
Glasses: ask Saul
You may repost the image & article. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

Happy New Year 2018

Dear AmperArt Fans

Happy New Year 2018

Thank you for showing your appreciation of the fun & fabulous ampersand by visiting my monthly creations. If you haven’t done so already, subscribe for your free monthly artwork featuring “the fun & fabulous ampersand.”

It has been another fun year of setting type, coloring pictures & creating layouts with our most interesting friend. (If you don’t know the story behind the ampersand, find out here.)

This New Year’s greet­ing fea­tures Pan­tone Col­or of the Year 2018, Ultra Vio­let 18 – 3838, as the sol­id back­ground col­or. It is fea­tured in Amper­Art #118 Mag­i­cal & Mys­ti­cal, along with specs and notes about the col­or.

Typog­ra­phy for this piece: 
Year & amper­sand set in Shelley-​Allegro Script
Words set in Onyx

This is not a typ­i­cal Amper­Art poster; rather a sin­cere wish for you to enjoy a proper­ous, healthy & hap­py New Year. (But it does, of course, con­tain an amper­sand.)

See you in 2018.




—Chaz DeS­i­mone
Typog­ra­ph­er & design­er & cre­ator of Amper­Art


For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!