Lunch boxes is a nifty thing to collect, specifically tin lunch boxes which were made around the 1950’s. Aladdin Industry manufactured the first steel lunch box called the Hopalong Cassidy. The Hopalong Cassidy was a big hit that it sold around 600,000 units in its first year from launching. Each Hopalong cost only $ 2.39 at that time. A couple of years later, the company manufactured lithographed design lunchboxes which attracted children as well as adults. The concept was patterned after tobacco tins which had lithographed letterings and images on them. The designs were mostly based on cartoons and children’s films and television shows.
Lunch boxes already existed several years before Aladdin Industry launched their tin lunch boxes. The predecessor lunch kits were usually made of woven baskets and wood. These lunch kits became popular when it was not practical to go home everyday for Americans working in factories and offices situated a long distance away from their homes. Industrialization and technology carried people away from their farms onto factories and offices while their children go to school across the state. People needed durability to transport their food and to keep it protected on their way to work. Thus, the metal version followed and soon enough an aluminum lunch box was created.
The first aluminum lunch kit was invented by Leo May in 1954 when he accidentally damaged his tin lunch box. Plastic material was initially used only for handles but later, manufacturers made the lunch kits completely of molded plastic. The first vinyl lunch boxes were introduced in 1950. Around the 1960’s the lunchboxes were already made with vacuum bottles and it evolved gradually through the 1970’s. Manufacturers also steadily moved away from glass-lined steel vacuum bottles to plastic bottles with insulated foam.
Aladdin Industries continued to produce glass-lined bottles until the 1970’s where they joined other manufactures into producing plastic lunch kits. One thing that also prompted lunch box manufacturers to use plastics is that a group of parents levied for the passage of safer school lunch boxes around 1971. They realized that steel lunch kits could be used as weapons in school fights. Eventually, the Florida State Legislature passed this legislation and was subsequently adopted all across the United States.
So for collectors of vintage steel lunch kits, you may find a lot of these available in auction sites and garage sales. Look for steel tin or aluminum kits manufactured from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Take note of the type of thermal technology these lunch kits are using to verify the date they were produced. Nonetheless, other manufacturers are still producing these tin lunch kits as collectibles and promotional items.