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The History of Lunch Boxes

Nearly everyone will remember the experience of carrying a lunch box to school. For many, choosing which cartoon character or design should be on the front of it was an all-important childhood decision. But do you know the fascinating history behind the humble lunch box? The lunch box originated with working men who used the metal containers to protect their sandwiches from the perils of harsh working environments like mines and quarries. In the 1880s, children who wanted to emulate their fathers began to create their own lunch boxes out of empty cookie or tobacco tins. The first commercial lunch boxes came out in 1902 and resembled metal picnic baskets adorned with images of children playing. In 1935, Mickey Mouse became the first character to grace a lunch box. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that kids could really choose which character or decoration they’d like on their lunchbox. As TV became more and more popular over the course of the decade, companies began making lunch boxes that depicted the characters that kids saw on their favorite shows. While we’ve swapped metal shells for plastic and insulating materials, lunch boxes today still depict various popular characters and designs on the outside so that kids can show off their personalities in the lunchroom.

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