Before you sit down with your TV dinner, check out what frozen food looks like in other parts of the world.
Many college students, hurried parents, and young professionals view frozen food as a go-to meal that does its part to lessen the stress in their busy lives. But Stouffer's lasagna, Marie Callender's chicken pot pies, and Ore-Ida French fries haven't been around forever. People living in very cold climates developed various food-freezing techniques long ago, but Clarence Birdseye is credited with inventing the quick-freezing method that first brought us modern frozen food in 1924. According to the Library of Congress, Birdseye was working as a fur trader in Canada when he realized that the fish he and a local Inuit caught together froze almost immediately after they pulled it from the water. Months later, he found the thawed-out fish to be no less tasty. Birdseye theorized that the best-tasting frozen food must be frozen very quickly, and this idea inspired his development of two different quick-freezing methods. Later on, he sold his company to Goldman Sachs for $22 million. The rest is history.
Frozen prepared food sales in the United States amount to over $14 billion, but it's important to note that frozen food isn't as popular in every country as it is in the U.S. In Italy, since fresh ingredients are available year-round, people often face a cultural difficulty in accepting the regular use of frozen food.
We looked up frozen food brands in other countries and expanded on a previous list of unusual frozen foods around the world to give you an idea of the way frozen food varies with these 13 different items.
Upon first glance, akutaq, which is also called "Eskimo ice cream," looks like a fruity ice cream similar to Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia. In fact, it's a combination of whipped fat and berries, with common additions of fish and sugar.
The traditional version, made with reindeer, walrus, or seal fat, is high in omega-3 fatty acids, but nowadays, the fat used is commercially available vegetable shortening, which is heavy in trans fats.
Alphabet Chicken Nuggets (Canada)
We're pretty familiar with alphabet soup and vaguely familiar with dinosaur chicken nuggets, but alphabet chicken nuggets? Whether you think that's YUM or EW, at least you can spell it out.
Some Americans might shudder at the thought of putting snails in the freezer, but in France, they're a delight for the last-minute party thrower -- so long as he or she has the appropriate tongs to go with them.
Gyoza, a type of dumpling, can be found in the frozen food section of grocery stores in Japan for only 200 yen (a little over $1.60).
The 12-pack is manufactured by the company Ajinomoto. The dumplings can be reheated without water or oil.
Gulab Jamun (India)
The most fragrant item in the frozen aisle, gulab jamun is a doughnut-like snack made of deep-fried milk solids served in a syrup of rosewater, saffron, and/or cardamom.
They probably taste better fresh, but hey, if you can get your hands on some at the Indian grocery store, then you can skip the laborious process it takes to make them at home.
Hayden Field, The Daily Meal
Additional reporting by Nikkitha Bakshani.