Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Remember These?

A picky eater, I was not a fan of the school cafeteria and brought my lunch to school every single day. Picking out a lunch box every fall was perhaps the most important school decision a kid could make. Choose the wrong one and your social status was destined to go down a peg or two. You were stuck with it all year so it had better be cool.

Personally, I was a Snoopy kind of girl, occasionally lured over by Holly Hobbie. Eventually, I graduated to The Bionic Woman and Charlie's Angels. I began collecting vintage metal lunch boxes about 15 years ago. Today I have about 120 which is a little less than a fourth of the total number produced. They bring back a wave of school memories - some good, some not so good. It's funny to smell those musty food odors in the boxes. What is it about those smells? Are they radioactive...they linger for years!! Once, I found a box and it still had a dime taped on the inner lid (for emergencies). Others are covered with Wacky Packages stickers. Each surely has its own story to tell.

Vintage metal lunch boxes are quite collectible today. Two of the more coveted ones are The Jetsons dome box and the Star Trek dome box. (I have neither.) Metal lunch boxes slowly began to be phased out in the 1970s, when a small group of concerned mothers from Florida began a well-organized campaign. Apparently, some kids (it's always the bullies who ruin things!) were whacking other kids in the heads with these things and causing permanent damage and chaos. (Hey, maybe they were just trying to put a few dents in and rough it up a bit so they could plead with mom for a new one.)

Alas, the trend of metal lunch box as weapon caught on and production of all metal lunch boxes stopped around 1986-1987. Two of the latter boxes produced were Sly Stallone's Rambo and The Transformers. Now, other than the cute metal repros, kids have to take the "safe" plastic boxes to school. Every time I look at my lunch boxes, I smile. Unfortunately, my husband and I are still living in my single-girl house. Translation: lunch boxes are packed away in the attic. But, one day, when we have more space, I will take them out, dust them off, and display them on high shelves in a game room or maybe a retro-themed kitchen.

A few of my favorites are: H.R. Pufnstuf, The Flying Nun, The Partridge Family, The Bugaloos, and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Do you remember which one you carried to school?


Malady said...

Oh, how fun!!! Let's see...I had a Mickey Mouse one I think. And a plastic baby blue ShirtTails lunchbox. Does anyone remember those? They were different animals like koala bears that wore t-shirts.

jessi nagy said...

oh how cool! I had a hello kitty, a smurfs,and a barbie lunch box. i can't remember the other ones. o yeah i also had a scooby do lunch box. so cool!
jessi nagy


Hanna said...

oh my gosh how cool they are! I'm fro sweden and we don't have lunch boxes over here at all - but I see why one would collect these. Just beautiful!

Linda said...

Love the lunch boxes! Hate to think how many I threw out of my kids....but please...it will be more fun for them to search for them at shops in ten years.


Corey Moortgat said...

I'm so glad your artwork made it safely! I don't remember looking at your blog before- you've got some fun stuff here- I'll be checking back! And I was a Snoopy girl, too!

Hennifer said...

That was a joy to see some of your collection! What a surprise. We were always poor and so participated in the free lunch program. I was always so envious of those with a box.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love planet of the apes. I used to live out west where they filmed that movie. I have loved it ever since.
Take care.

Kimla Kay said...

Note to Hennifer: My husband never had a lunch box either. He was a brown paper bagger and, poor guy, always had a wet spot in the bag where the half smushed banana had been. He was always eyeing the other kids' twinkies. (smile)