Car Culture – Out to Lunch

Think back! What was the best thing about starting the new school year? For many, it was getting a new lunch box! Each year kids put a lot of thought into what box they would get. Just as what car we drive defines us, a lunch box made the statement of what one was about. It had to tell the dudes to “back off,” and the girls to “take notice.” Being the‘Hot Wheel’ and ‘Matchbox’ car gear-head generation that we were, many naturally picked a lunch box with a car on it.

Let’s take a step back. The first lunch boxes came about in the late 1800’s and were used by blue-collar workers to protect their food from the rigors of the workplace.

The golden age of lunch boxes came about in the 1950’s. The first character-licensed lunch box was Mickey Mouse in 1935. Sales of that box skyrocketed! Aladdin Industries was looking for a way to increase sales of their plain steel lunch kits, as they were called then. They came out with ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ and ‘Roy Rogers’ boxes in the 50’s, and the craze was born. Aladdin later added the thermos, complete with additional graphics, making the lunch boxes even more desirable for kids and moms.

With new T.V. shows and new fads coming along each year, the addition of new themes and images on lunch boxes would assure kids would have to get a new one each year. As a result, 120 million lunch boxes were sold between 1950 and 1970. In 1962, Aladdin embossed the front and back of the lunch boxes giving them a 3D e effect. All good things come to an end, and so it was with the metal lunch box. In the late 1970’s cost cutting saw the lunch boxes made out of plastic. Florida actually banned metal lunch boxes, fearing kids would use them as school yard weapons. 1987 saw the last mass-produced metal lunch box, graced with the image of Rambo.

So why are we talking about lunch boxes in a car magazine? Well, just look at all these cool lunch boxes! Many believe the cars are just as much the “stars” as the actors; you be the judge. Bon appétit!