LOS ANGELES , September 18, 2018 () – Earlier this year, I drove by the former house of my childhood best friend. I was in the neighborhood, a wave of nostalgia hit me and so I decided to go by the place where I spent so much time as a kid.

When I was younger, everything about that house, that street, that neighborhood seemed massive. The house seemed like a two-story mansion, with so many nooks and crannies inside. The street felt like it went on for miles and miles before ending at a cul de sac, the length and width perfect for games of hide-and-seek. And every house in the neighborhood looked huge, almost daunting.

But when I drove down the street as an adult, what I saw didn’t jibe with my memories. The house was a decent size but not gigantic. The street was very narrow and didn’t go down far at all. And the other houses in the neighborhood seemed packed in tightly and were all smaller than I remember.

I had a similar experience recently at the frozen food aisle. My friend and co-worker Michelle let me know that National TV Dinner Day was upon us (Sept. 10, to be exact). We thus began a nostalgic conversation about eating fried chicken TV dinners when we were kids and then a thought occurred to us: Why not step back into the past and have a couple of these dinners in celebration.

Excited, I went to my local Vons after work in search of a couple of old-school frozen fried chicken meals. You know the type: Two pieces of greasy fried chicken (bone-in), corn that’s too watery, mashed potatoes that are frozen in the middle no matter how long (or short) you cook them, and a chocolate brownie that turns hard as a rock and threatens to break your teeth when you bite into it.

I soon, realized, however, that going down this Memory Lane wouldn’t be so memorable. For one thing, I couldn’t find a TV dinner featuring fried chicken! I mean, it was nowhere! I found turkey, meatloaf, even Mesquite BBQ chicken. But fried chicken? Nope. Unlike the 1980s and early 1990s, when there was frozen fried chicken dinners as far as the eye can see, in 2018 such dinners seemed extinct.

Stunned (and more than a little saddened), I contacted Michelle and told her of my plight. So she went to her local Ralph’s and had both good and bad news: She has found two fried chicken TV dinners (the only two in the entire store) but the chicken was boneless, almost like a large chicken nugget. The bone-in chicken we knew and loved was gone.

Beggars can’t be choosers, so we went with these dinners. Michelle brought them to work the next day and I was happy to see that the classic corn/mashed potatoes/brownie trio still remained. At lunch time, we fired up the microwave, heated up the dinners, brought them to the table and dug in.

First, I tried the chicken. It was surprisingly tender and juicy, without the grease of the dinners of yesteryear. The mashed potatoes were very warm but not scalding, with no frozen center. The corn was flavorful and not too watery. And the chocolate brownie was actually moist.

In other words:

The TV dinner sucked!

Half the fun of eating TV dinners is how bad they are! I mean, the whole point of the dinners is to see how amazing the meal looks on the box and then be utterly disappointed when you actually tried the finish product. But when the meal looks good on the box and actually taste good in practice, you’ve just taken away years of childhood memories.

I can’t remember ever enjoying a good meal less.

Fried chicken TV dinners are hard to find, but if you find them, they taste good now.

And that’s a darn shame.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence, which can help YOU better address your own industry challenges. We invite you to come take a look at our service. Call us today at 310-553-0008 and we’ll schedule you for a 15-minute demo.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.