Nostalgic Evocations: Lunch Boxes

The best part of going back to school in the fall was picking out a new lunch box.  A lot of thought was put into finding the perfect lunch box, because you were stuck with it all year.  There were really only two categories to choose from: plastic or metal (forget the fabric ones or the bagged lunch).  I was squarely in the metal lunch box group.  There really wasn’t a choice in my mind.  There were so many cool choices every year and I actually remember a few of my boxes all these years later…It was a big deal, then.

1980: The Empire Strikes Back


This is the first one I remember and I would’ve been in kindergarten.  The art isn’t quite up to what I remember (rose-colored glasses and all), but it was a good first ever lunch box.  The depiction of Luke is particularly disappointing.


1982: G.I. Joe


G.I Joe and Star Wars fought for my heart all through the early and mid-eighties.  Once again, the artwork leaves much to be desired, but these were for kids to carry lunch in after all.


1983: Return of the Jedi


Back to the Star Wars box.  This one wasn’t quite as cool as the Empire box, but it was definitely an improvement on the artwork side of things.


1984: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom


I remember being one of only a small handful of kids that had actually seen the movie.  Being the first PG-13 movie, my parents debated whether or not to let me see it in theaters.  Ultimately, they took me to see it one afternoon.  I had to have this box.  This was the only no-doubter when it came to choosing each year.


Looking back, all I remember about lunch boxes in general is that by the end of the year, they had developed rust spots inside and out (not the safest thing in the world to be packing food into), the thermoses would inevitably start to smell a tad funky, no matter how often or well you cleaned them (often, in my case the thermos would be abandoned early on in favor of a juice box), and the little metal thermos holder would break or be lost in the first month.  All these issues were survivable from a child’s point of view, but one couldn’t recover from a broken handle or clasp…that was too embarrassing for a grade school kid, because you had to carry the box for all to see and you couldn’t do that with a jacked up lid or broken handle.


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