The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

Lunchboxes, the Talk of the Playground (and Collectors)

Do you remember the days when your lunchbox as one of the most important things you carried to school? Tin lunchboxes used to be all the rage on the playground, featuring popular pop culture figures, often with matching Thermoses. How cool your lunchbox was would either side you with the cool kids or stick you in the “dork” category.

Now tin lunchboxes are all the rage with collectors.

DSC_0839

By Kevin Burkett, CC 2.0

As with many things, a little mouse named Mickey got the ball rolling on character-approved lunchboxes. Mickey was featured on a metal “Lunch Kit” and soon other companies caught on.

Captain America lunchbox by Visitor7 on Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0.

Captain America lunchbox by Visitor7 on Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0.

 

In the mid-20th century, a company called Aladdin started the real lunchbox craze. They started printing pop culture-relevant designs on the boxes and dominated most of the market until the early 1960’s, around the time that the Thermos Company started decorating lunchboxes on all sides.

Around that time, Aladdin started making 3D lunchboxes, too, embossing designs on the metal boxes to make them stick out.

Voyage_to_the_Bottom_of_the_Sea_Lunch_Box

By Visitor7 on Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0

In the 60’s, space-themed boxes were especially popular, with imagery featuring The Jetsons and Star Trek. This is on top of all the other famous figures like the Beatles.

And in the ’70s and ’80s, lunchboxes really took over in the cafeteria. TV shows and film featured on the boxes as sneakier marketing. Hot Wheel boxes were pretty popular, too.

Pro tip: Original Hot Wheels lunchboxes with the Twin Mill car are especially rare.

The popularity of lunchboxes has, unfortunately, died down a bit. But plenty of vintage boxes are out there for collecting nostalgic pieces of the past.

Did you own any pop culture lunchboxes as a kid? Do you collect them now?

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