Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bring Back the Lethal Weapons!

Back in the good old 70's, our moms packed our pb and grape jelly sandwich, bag of fritos, three Chips A'Hoy cookies and a thermos of milk in this:

A metal lunch box and coordinating thermos embossed with the television heroes of our times. These lunch boxes rocked because they had pictures on all sides. Some of them featured characters who were slightly raised so that in moments of boredom, you could trace their figures with your fingers.
In those days, the best part of back-to-school shopping included standing before the lunchbox aisle in the five and dime and carefully weighing the pros and cons of each and every lunch box. Your mother stood there telling you to hurry up and just pick one for goodness sake, but you made sure to examine each one, looking at all the pictures on the sides, tops and bottoms and checking out the thermos inside. It was an agonizing decision, but finally, finally, you selected the one you were sure was the coolest lunch box there.
Your lunch box was a source of pride and entertainment. In the cafeteria during lunchtime, you would take your place at the long brown table with the attached round orange seats, open your lunchbox and prop it up in front of you so that it was on display for everyone to see. You would take out your thermos and pour your milk into the little cap that conveniently turned into a cup. Then you and your friends would entertain yourselves for the next 25 minutes by looking at everyone else's rig. You compared them. You envied them. You judged others by their lunchbox.
The sweetest and nicest girls in the class carried this:
The kid that loved to cream everyone in dodge ball carried this:
The girl who chased the boys around the playground, wrestled them to the ground and kissed them carried this (on account Bo and his hotness):

The cute blond boy carried this:

The cool girl whose parents let her watch adult TV shows while the rest of us were restricted to Zoom and Sesame Street had this one:
Some time during the early 80's a group of parents started an uproar about the danger of metal lunch boxes and they fell out of fashion. Seems they could be a "lethal weapon."
So manufacturers turned to plastic and vinyl and lunch boxes began their descent into boredom.
The hard plastic ones were still marginally cool. This was one of mine. I have a longstanding love affair with Star Wars. I had Star Wars bedsheets. I believed I was in love with Luke. When my mother got us lost while driving to my uncle's house I told her, "The stars will guide us."

I also had a vinyl Wonder Woman box. The only drawback was that it got a very funky smell after a while. Seems that sour milk permeated the plastic. Yuck.

Nowadays, kids carry nondescript thermal bags.

I can't help but think their lunch hours are less interesting for it.


Missybw said...

I had a metal New Zoo Review, Peanuts School Bus, and Holly Hobbie, and a vinyl Barbie lunchbox. What a great time I had with those treasures. And, truly, if I still had them I would be rich, rich I tell you.

TC said...

I just googled my "Gentle Ben" Lunchbox and its selling for over a $100. I got to call the folks and make sure they didn't throw it out!

Magpie said...

Sigh. I never had a lunch box. My mother was all about the brown paper bag.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, thank you for the trip down memroy lane. I also loved my lunch box and thermos. I had a muppet one. I loved the muppets. I could sing Rainbow Connection for you now if you'd like, although I would ruin it with my horrible singing voice. I recently bought a set of those muppet and peanuts glasses that McDonald's had years and years ago. Now I shall go insearch of another part of my childhood and find the lunch box. Thanks a lot.
Your SIL

Rima said...


I think you matched the boxes to their stereotypes very accurately in this post. I had a Holly Hobby lunchbox. I wonder what that says about me?

Don Mills Diva said...

OMG - you just sent me down memoory lane - I had a Wonder Woman metal lunch box and then a Muppets plastic one and I remember when the milk would spill and it would smell too!

jennifer h said...

Oh, the memories you just brought back!

My sister had the Charlie's Angels lunchbox, and I had a Bionic Woman on.

You're right, kids these days are missing out!

KAM said...

it was ALL about wonder woman, ok??? strawberry shortcake was the furthest i went that was sweet without the superpowers. fun post, molly. i do think the kids are kinda missing out on some cool things we had, but they also have things we couldn't have imagined. life and its trade-offs, eh?

stephanie said...

Most excellent discussion. First let me say, the whole 'lethal weapon' nonsense makes me crazy. Prisoners make shivs out of toothbrushes; they beat each other with toilet seats. Desperate people can find ways to make anything a lethal weapon.

Okay, better now. My lunchbox was Road Runner, because my parents both had one (the hot rods, not the birds). I was an idiot and covered it with all those stupid stickers from Wonder Bread, otherwise I could be selling it for some shoe money right now...

One of my HS students has a metal lunchbox that she brings to school. It's awesome; I'm admiringly jealous.

MommyTime said...

I still remember (with longing fondness) my Scooby Doo lunch box. I wish I still had it to pass on to my son. So cool. I completely agree that our kids have boring lunch boxes now. And the funny thing is, I even started looking for photos of the cool metal ones I had as a kid so I could write a post like this. Only I couldn't find any photos, and so I abandoned the idea. How nice to find your post instead! Thanks for the trip down memory lane... and for coming by my place and leaving a comment.

sexy said...