A Rare Picture of the First Modern Airline Meal

In my book I mentioned the first frozen airline meals, which were made by the Maxson Company for the US Air Force in 1945. Visionary inventor William Maxson invented the small convection oven and segmented aluminum trays, and though the meals weren’t gourmet delights, they were vastly better than the cold emergency rations that previously had been the only option. An article about these new rations appeared in Yank Magazine, a publication of the US Military, ┬áin July of 1945, and it included this picture:

MaxsonSkyPlateThe picture of the smiling stewardess handing a plate to a civilian reflected the company’;s aspirations, since no civilian aircraft would be fitted with those ovens for another four years. The article in Yank Magazine claimed that the frozen meals would soon be available in fifty different varieties and would be for sale to civilian housewives, which shows that Maxson had big dreams for his new product. Alas, by the time the first Pan Am flight using the new meals took to the sky, William Maxson was dead. His heirs had no interest in the business and sold it, and the new owners were interested only in producing the small convection ovens and discontinued further research into creating better meals. Had they stayed in the food business and used the founder’s research, the Maxson Company would have been ideally positioned to take advantage of the postwar air travel boom. Others would make money from their ideas, and continue to do so today.