Whatever happened to …

… TV dinner tables?

David Garlick was a week ahead of me on this one with his Twitter response to last week’s post.

Maybe that’s why he was a principal and I wasn’t.

Yes, there was the concept of the folding TV dinner table. There’s a bunch still for sale –


They’ve gone up in price! And appear to be more solid than the ones in my memory.

Currently, we don’t own a set but I do remember, as a child, of having a set that we kept behind the door going down to the basement. My wife’s parents had a set and used them as end tables down in their rec room. I stole the idea when furnishing an apartment at university. It was affordable, to be sure, from the second hand store. $5 a set, if I recall correctly.

They weren’t very solid. They appeared to be made of tin and had a flowered pattern on them and fluted edges. They folded up neatly for storage and the concept was to put your dinner/supper on them so that you could watch television while eating. (TV dinners optional). Unlike a regular table, they weren’t a permanent addition to a room – just for those special times that you ate supper while watching television.

Or so the story goes…

In both our families like David’s, the television was turned off at meal times and we ate as a family around the kitchen table. In our case, the dining table was used for special dining occasions when we had company but mostly as a collection point for stuff at other times.

So, why did we have TV tables? For those fancy meals with company, they served as holders for the food as we loaded up buffet style. We also used them to play games like checkers, Monopoly, on them. But that was about it.

These days, I can’t remember seeing them out for sale in stores so I don’t know if they’re not there or they’re such a seldom-purchased article that they’re largely hidden. We do see them when we’re out antiquing and it does bring back childhood memories!

For a Sunday morning, your thoughts?

  • Do you currently own a set of TV dinner tables?
  • Did you have them in your youth?
  • Were you allowed to eat and watch television at the same time?
  • While the cheap tinny ones probably wouldn’t work, could you see a use for these type of table in your classroom?
  • Given their price point and the portability, there has to be all kinds of functionality for these that I’m not aware of. Do you have a unique use for these things?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

11 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Doug, it’s funny, as I’m trying to get a visual on them, as I’m sure there must be a use for these tables in the classroom. Now in our Board though, all furniture needs to be Board-purchased, so I’m guessing these tables would need to stay at home. I wonder if other Boards are the same.



  2. Our set is in the front hall closet. We inherited them from my wife’s grandmother. As we rarely watch TV at all, we have little use for them for their stated purpose, but we do use them when we have guests up to our ‘juliet,’ a covered balcony with a small round table and four chairs. They’re perfect for holding the food that’s not on our plates.

    I don’t think the school board would have an issue with me bringing them to my classroom, but my wife would. If anything were to happen to these vintage items, she would be really upset!


  3. You bring on an additional question, Aviva. Are tables furniture? I could understand couches and chairs …These would be clearly not something you sit or lie on.


  4. David, a wise man knows his limits. It sounds like you understand yours with respect to this! I’m going to have to look into the word “juliet”. I’ve only ever seen it used as a female name.


  5. Our family had a set. I think we only ate our TV dinners on them once — guess we had to try. Eventually we only had one table kicking around. It would be put out in the livingroom to put snacks on for family or guests. I still remember the tacky green floral pattern and gold legs. I will have to check if someone in our family still has it.

    We recently bought a cheap folding wood table that is similar to a TV table, but it is just an extra surface space in our guest room now.


  6. I don’t remember the ones you describe, but I do remember faux woodgrain ones with a metal rim. I think the last batch I had contact with would have either been my grandparents, or my Oma’s. I remember using them when the festive gatherings overflowed the main seating, and we were encouraged to use them while sitting on a coach or a chair. I think at least one of my housemates (probably Ange, who had grown up eating and watching TV at the same time,) brought a set with them in university. I don’t think my own kids have ever experienced them (at least partly because we didn’t have a TV for most of their lives!)


  7. I remember those old “tin” ones. In my family we didn’t eat a lot of meals together as we got old enough to make our own meals. Long story but we did eat well.

    These days we have a set of folding wooden tables but they are not used to eat while watching TV. They are for when we have a buffet style setting for a party or other gathering where a formal dinner is not on the plan.


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