For working adults a tin or steel box was a means to keep their daily work meal safe from the hazards of the job site. The vintage style metal lunch box is a collectible item which stirs the memories of many.
Pail style kits could easily be carried to the workplace or school while the square lunch box design was compact and convenient. It was a style as it was sturdy enough to protect your lunch time meal from being crushed but also a style that could be easily stored when it was not in use. The dome style lunch box came in later to accommodate the addition of a thermos.
Men in particular needed a sturdy container to keep their food from being crushed before it could be consumed and the tin food and tobacco containers of the day served this purpose ideally. Kids of course enjoyed having the same kit as mom or dad so followed suit.
Just for Fun a Little Lunch Box History Lesson
The lunch box has quite an interesting history behind it. The first items used for this function were recycled food, coffee, tea, and tobacco tins. Not too much went to waste in the old days and the bags, boxes, and tins that food stuffs arrived in were happily reused for any method which they could be.
Men heading out to work off the farm required a very durable container for their lunch fare so coffee and tobacco tins were the perfect solution for providing them with a strong sturdy lunch box.
A stacking metal lunch box was traditionally used by many adults and children in the early days. The tin lunch boxes would be stacked together and then tied, pinched, or clasped, into a secure bundle. This system is actually still popular today in some areas of the world.
Commercial lunch boxes began to appear in the 1850's and by the 1860's patents on these products also began to make an appearance. It was in 1935 that the image of Mickey Mouse became the first licensed character and was featured on a Geuder, Paeschke and Frey lunch box.
Vintage Lunch Boxes for Sale on eBay
Lunch Box Designs Became Very Popular After 1950
The popularity of character lunch pails took off in in 1950 when Aladdin Industries put a decal image of Hopalong Cassidy on one of their lunch boxes and saw their sales shoot through the roof. Previously selling about 50,000 lunch boxes per year their sales then jumped to a whopping 600,000 the year the new lunch box design came out. This was the start of a new era in lunch box design.
The classic square or dome styling of the tin lunch box is what many of us remember. Imprinted with a colorful image of our favorite movie, or cartoon characters on it, a brand new decorative lunch box was one of a child's most coveted school day items.
A child's lunch box was a statement of their personality and with the square vintage lunch box featuring so many themes this was easy. Cartoon characters and movies stars were popular themes. As many rural children who carried lunch boxes still heard tales of cowboys and horses it was just natural for these to also be a popular box theme.
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Ah but the Hazards of a Metal Lunch Box
It seems that today's kids are not the only ones to get into some degree of bad behavior on the school grounds. When it became apparent that some students were using their metal lunch boxes as weapons to bonk other students over the head with some parents took action.
In the 1971 - 1972 school year concerned parents petitioned in Florida to have metal lunch boxes banned. This was a move that was to lead to the popularity of plastic lunches boxes in the 1980s.
A child's lunch box was a statement of their personality and the many designs featured on their choice of lunch boxes made it an item they were thrilled to receive. Featuring so many themes it was not always easy to choose your favorite.
Healthy Lunches Kids Will Actually Want to Eat
Today You Can Still Find Many of Your Favorite Styles
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