These Cal-Dark Roll-a-Tray TV tray table sets are, according to the ad, "The handiest thing around the house...(next to a husband)"
I'm sure there are many women who would disagree with that one.
TV trays were very common back in the 1950s and continue to be today. I had a number of friends who grew up eating dinner at the dinner table only when they had company. Otherwise, they ate at the TV. I can't think it did much for family togetherness, although it did seem to promote some interesting conversations.
TV watching takes up an extraordinary amount of time in the lives of most people, and not just Americans. According to zonalatina.com, more families in Brazil own TV sets than own refrigerators. That's an interesting choice. They go on to point out that eating in front of the television may cause people to overeat, as they are not really conscious of how much they are eating. I think anyone who has sat down to a Pawn Stars marathon with a bag of chips and a bowl of dip can testify to the consequences.
I also find that watching cooking shows makes me incredibly hungry. Really, I want to invade the pantry after a couple of hours of Top Chef. It is good, perhaps, that I live so far out in the country that there is nothing that I can have delivered at 11:00 at night.
Perhaps the inventors of these TV trays never really intended that they be used as a weapon to facilitate the breakdown of the American family unit, although I am sure that some right wing nut group might believe that. I don't know of anyone who divorced over having dinner in front of reruns of The Big Bang Theory. However, I do believe that an excess of TV can rightfully be pointed to as a contributing factor in childhood obesity.
Do kids tend to believe what they see on TV? Sure, but no amount of Top Chef has convinced my children to like asparagus.