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A big event for the child starting school becomes the acquisition of a lunch box.

I remember the metal lunch boxes of my childhood. My grandchildren have plastic or cloth ones. My uncle carried the large black laborers' type with rounded top.

Lunch Box Collectibles

Many of these have become collectibles, especially the metal boxes made before the 1980s when they were discontinued in favor of the plastic ones. Numerous lunch boxes centered around Saturday morning TV themes so are the height of nostalgia.

The thermos bottles, too, are included as collectibles. The lunch box is considered more valuable if it comes with matching thermos. However, most collectors will accumulate them separately.

Bring Back Memories

As you look at lunch boxes, either in pictures, in collections and
displays, or in flea markets, most people are captivated by those that bring back memories of their own childhood. The designs catching your attention will be those found on the lunch boxes you and your friends used.

Then you'll remember Mom or Grandma, perhaps Aunt Susie, making sandwiches and packing lunches at the kitchen table. Once you were old enough, maybe you made your own lunch and those of younger siblings, as I did.

I recall my bachelor uncle, who lived with us, spreading out his
sandwich makings on the kitchen table after supper and packing the items that wouldn't spoil overnight in his black workman's lunch box. The sandwiches and any perishables would stay in the refrigerator. He seemed to make such a large lunch compared with what we four children took to school.

Since I attended the first four years of school at a one-room school house, without any cafeteria, we naturally packed our lunches. A few of our friends who lived closer to school than my sister, brothers, and I did, went home for lunch.

Lunch Box Types

What are some of the memorable lunch boxes collectors seek or bring back memories?

Think of Superman, Howdy Doody, G.I. Joe, Batman, the Jetsons, Dick Tracy, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Trigger, Robin Hood, Flipper, Space Cadet, Snow White, Barbie, Twiggy, Peanuts, and many more.

Related Lunch Box Collectibles

Among the lunch box collectibles you'll find blueprints for boxes and thermoses, cardboard store displays, catalog pages, proof sheets, comic strips showing characters carrying lunch boxes, and recipe pamphlets of recipes for lunch box menus.

Lunch Box Menu Suggestions

What shall you pack for your youngsters' lunches? Sandwiches of
various kinds top the menu, along with cookies and an apple, banana, or an orange. However, not all youngsters like sandwiches or get tired of them day after day. So how about:

*Chunks/cubes of cheese and crackers or peanut butter and crackers. The crackers can range from saltines to a variety of snack crackers.

*Small boxes of raisins

*Individual servings of applesauce and canned fruit, either purchased prepackaged or put into mini containers by the lunch maker

*Pudding in individual servings. (Some of these packaged puddings don't need refrigeration before opening.)

*Small carrots or carrot and celery sticks with peanut butter dip.

(c)Mary Emma Allen


(In addition to writing cooking columns, Mary Emma Allen writes for children. Her latest book is a coloring book to accompany her children's anthology, "Tales of Adenture & Discovery. Visit her web site to view more "Country Kitchen" columns:; mailto:[email protected])
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