Excerpt From Hank Cardello's 'Stuffed'

Author and healthy eating expert Hank Cardello has some advice for eating nutritiously, regardless of your economic standing.

The secret, he said, lies in understanding the way the average consumer thinks and buys.

Check out an excerpt of his book "Stuffed" below, and then ask him your own questions in a live chat by clicking here and going to the comments section.

Chapter 1: A Boxcar Full of Turkeys

It all started with a turkey. Well, actually, not one turkey but many turkeys. The year was 1953. Thanksgiving had passed, the economy was booming, and Christmas shoppers around the country were getting ready to throw down some of their hardearned cash for a little bit of Christmas cheer.

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But the mood wasn't so great at C. A. Swanson & Sons, an Omaha- based frozen food company. Somehow, Swanson had overestimated America's hunger for turkey that Thanksgiving, and they found themselves with more than half a million pounds of unsold turkeys. This would have been a lot of food in any era, but back then it was astronomical. Not to mention that Swanson didn't have enough refrigerated warehouse space to keep the turkeys from spoiling. Facing the prospect of having to write off all these birds as a huge loss, Swanson piled the turkeys into refrigerated boxcars while they searched for a buyer. As the boxcars traveled back and forth from Nebraska to the East Coast, the company's owners looked for a solution that would save them millions of dollars.

As the legend goes, one of their salesmen, Gerry Thomas, had been in Pittsburgh, checking out the catering kitchens of Pan American World Airways when he heard about the company's problem. On the flight home, he began doodling, thinking about the hot tray the airline used to keep food warm. Why not use it to keep food cold, he wondered. In his sketches, Thomas ended up designing a three-compartment tray—a sort of takeoff on the old army mess kits, but also something that drew upon the airline's reliance on serving different foods steaming hot. The food in these trays would be kept in the freezer until it was ready to be eaten, at which point it would be heated up and served. In a matter of minutes dinner could be served with little to no preparation.

Initially, nobody at Swanson's headquarters was bowled over by the idea, and they produced only 5,000 of the meals. But eventually they warmed to the concept. They initiated Operation Smash, a national marketing campaign consisting of a blitz of television and print ads. Two headlines read: "Swanson's fixed it for you! Complete turkey dinner on a tray." "My boys are crazy about Swanson TV Dinners."

Soon enough consumers responded with a demand that far outpaced the supply. The company was blindsided by the fact that Americans seemed fascinated by the prospect of eating this new, convenient meal in front of their televisions. And just like that, the TV dinner was born.

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