(WYTV) – Let’s talk about the most famous leftover from Thanksgiving…well, a leftover invention.

In 1953, the Swanson company overestimated the number of frozen turkeys it needed to sell for Thanksgiving dinners. The company had 260 tons of excess turkey after the holiday.

They were sitting in ten refrigerated railroad cars and the refrigeration worked only when the cars were moving. The Swanson company had the trains travel back and forth between its Nebraska headquarters and the East Coast until the executives could figure out what to do.

The solution: a salesman named Gerry Thomas said let’s create pre-made turkey dinners; add some cornbread stuffing and sweet potatoes served on individual trays, just like airline meals.

By the end of 1954, Swanson had sold 10 million frozen turkey meals. The company called them TV dinners and sold them for 98 cents.

Swanson gave Thomas a one thousand dollar bonus for coming up with the idea, equivalent to five months pay at the time.

Soon, men were writing angry letters to the Swanson company complaining their wives weren’t cooking enough home made meals for them, instead just popping aluminum trays in the oven. Swanson took full advantage of TV with commercials showing elegant, modern women serving TV dinners to their families.

“The best fried chicken I know comes with a TV dinner.” That praise came from Barbra Streisand in the New Yorker magazine in 1962.