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6 Fun Facts About Lunch and the Origins of the Lunch Box

Ever wonder how the midday meal got portable? We’ve gathered a few facts about lunch and what people have been using to carry their midday meal in throughout the years.

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1. Humble Beginnings

The concept of bringing a meal to work dates back to the mid-1800s. The historical facts about lunch reveal that farmers and industrial workers, who couldn’t come home at noon, stuffed food, such as hard-boiled eggs, veggies, meat, poe and coffee, into old cleaned-out tobacco tins or sturdy dinner pails.


(Photo: 2013 Collectibles and Antique News)

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2. Facts About Lunch In The Early Years

In the 1900s, the tin box was appropriated by early-adopter kids wanting to emulate their dads. The first commercial version starred Mickey Mouse.


(Photo: 2013 Collectibles and Antique News)

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3. The Golden Age

In the 1950s through the 1970s, decorating lunch boxes with pop-culture idols became a marketing staple: a child might be enamoured by Hopalog Cassidy one year and the Lone Ranger the next, so they’d want to update accordingly.


(Photo: 2013 Collectibles and Antique News)

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4. The Plastic Period

In the 1960s-1980s, the metal lunch box was abandoned in favour of vinyl-covered and plastic boxes that were cheaper to make. The Barbie line was one of the most successful of the bunch.


(Photo: 2013 Collectibles and Antique News)

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5. The Pouch Age

In the 1990s and 2000s, the soft insulated polyester lunch bag took over the market and remains the lunch container du jour.


(Photo: Thinkstock)

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6. The Future of Carrying Lunch


This prototype for the Mo:Ben self-heating lunch box has a plug, in case you need to warm your meal and have no microwave. It was modelled after the Japanese bento box.