Retro Lunchbox Reviews & Buying Guide 2019


Hello, I'm Gregor and I put this site together. At first, you'll find an overview of recommended retro lunchboxes, followed by a public poll and a general buying guide on retro lunchbox. Further down on this page, we do link to other well-written articles and reviews about retro lunchboxes. At last, you'll be able to weight in your own opinion in the comments section.

If you choose to buy an item that I've chosen indepenently and recommended it here, I may earn commissions to support my efforts. For you, the price of the product will not change, I'm just saying this to be completely open with you.

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The 9 Best Retro Lunchboxes of Our Choice

Quick comparison in an overall view
Fred & Friends
Suck UK
Novelty Lunch Kit
, Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine
Fred E.M.T. (Emergency
Emergency Meal Transport
Retro Boombox Radio
Classic Lunch Box
12493 Bigfoot Lunchbox
, Multi
3.3 x 6.4 in in, Multicolored
Retro TV Tin Storage
Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags Brown
Plain Metal Dome Lunch Box
Thermos Novelty Lunch Kit Image
Thermos Novelty Lunch Kit, Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine
Fred & Friends Fred E.M.T. (Emergency Image
Fred E.M.T. (Emergency Meal Transport) Insulated Lunch Tote
Toynk Retro Boombox Radio Image
Retro Boombox Radio Lunchbox Tin Tote - 1980s Inspired Merchandise - Novelty Costume Accessories and Storage Container - Fun Unique Gifts for Halloween, Birthdays, Holidays, Graduation
Stanley Classic Lunch Box Image
Stanley Classic Lunch Box, Hammer Tone Navy, 10-Quart
Accoutrements 12493 Bigfoot Lunchbox Image
Accoutrements 12493 Bigfoot Lunchbox, Multi
Great Deal
Suck UK SK LUNCHBOT1 Robot Image
Suck UK SK LUNCHBOT1 Robot Lunch Box | TIN | Toy Storage | Bedroom Decor & Organization |, 9.6 x 3.3 x 6.4 in in, Multicolored
Aquarius Retro TV Tin Storage Image
Aquarius Retro TV Tin Storage Fun Box
CZYY Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags Brown Image
Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags Brown Paper Bag Styled - Classic Updated - Reusable and Washable, Worthbuy Lunch Box for Men & Women Plain Metal Dome Lunch Box Image
Plain Metal Dome Lunch Box - Silver
according to our criteria
98 %
in comparison
92 %
in comparison
88 %
in comparison
88 %
in comparison
87 %
in comparison
87 %
in comparison
82 %
in comparison
82 %
in comparison
78 %
in comparison
  • 100 Pvc Free With Peva Linings
  • Superior Quality Closed Cell Polyethylene Foam Insulation Keeps Foo...
  • Detailed Screen Printed Graphics On Nylon Or Polyester
  • Fun functional: Fred's E M T insulated tote will keep your preciou...
  • Quality materials: Every Emergency Meal Transport lunch bag has a f...
  • Convenient size: Fred's E M T insulated lunch bag measures 9 75 x 7...
  • Turn IT UP TO 11: Retro tin tote that looks just like a retro boomb...
  • Premium quality - Made from quality tin Tin tote measures 7.75 x 6....
  • Cool design: Fun colourful graphics of a boombox Use it as storage ...
  • Large capacity lunch box
  • 6 Mm spcd steel for superior durability
  • Sturdy latches and hinges for durability
  • Great gift for the Sasquatch searcher in your life
  • Great for gourmet treats or forest eats
  • Important Bigfoot facts included on the box
  • Classic tin lunchbox designed like a retro robot
  • Carry handle and secure fastenings
  • Plenty of room for a sandwich and snacks
  • Made of tin with embossed front cover
  • Measures 7.75 x 6.75 x 4
  • Not for food
  • Eco-Friendly and Save Money: Say goodbye to soggy paper bags and fl...
  • Easy to Clean and Save Time: This work lunch bag simply wiped with ...
  • Perfect Size and Perfect for Any Occasion: 5.9 Width x 8.26 Length ...
  • Blank light-duty plain metal dome shaped lunch box made for customi...
  • Used by Martha Stewart for her Father's Day custom gift packaging
  • Measures about 10 inches wide 7 inches tall and 4.5 inches deep
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Results of the Straw Poll: Popular Retro Lunchboxes

Every month, we analyze which products our readers like the most:

Which Retro Lunchbox Would You Buy Online? (August 2019)

  • 0 % (0 votes) Thermos Novelty Lunch Kit, Scooby Doo and the M...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Fred E.M.T. (Emergency Meal Transport) Insulate...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Retro Boombox Radio Lunchbox Tin Tote - 1980s I...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Stanley Classic Lunch Box, Hammer Tone Navy, 10...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Accoutrements 12493 Bigfoot Lunchbox, Multi
  • 0 % (0 votes) Suck UK SK LUNCHBOT1 Robot Lunch Box | TIN | To...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Aquarius Retro TV Tin Storage Fun Box
  • 0 % (0 votes) Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags Brown Paper Bag Styled ...

0 total votes.

If you also want to vote on the best retro lunchbox, click here to view the poll.

Retro Lunchbox Buying Guide

Retro Lunchbox Image
Picture: Novelty Lunch Kit from Thermos

The nostalgia associated with retro lunch boxes reflects our deep emotional connection with food. Just as you can recall the taste of your mom’s egg salad or homemade chicken soup, you can remember the lunch box and Thermos that contained them.

Americans have had a long love affair with lunch boxes. There’s a museum in Columbus, Georgia, devoted solely to this beloved slice of Americana. The Smithsonian Institution also has an extensive collection. Even Harry Truman prized his lunch box. His name was stenciled on it in large block letters along with the warning “OFF LIMITS.”

Lunch boxes have always reflected the culture. They've gone through many transformations with changing fashions and evolving technology. If you’re interested in collecting them but don’t know how to get started, you’d do well to follow a timeline.

The 1800s

As industry boomed, more Americans and immigrants left their farms to take jobs in factories, quarries and coal mines. Going home midday was impractical, so workers needed sturdy containers for their lunches. Most children who lived in the country had to walk miles to and from one-room schoolhouses, so they ate lunch at their desks or outdoors.

The earliest lunch boxes were repurposed household items. Someone might clean up a tobacco, biscuit or cookie tin and wrap a sandwich or piece of leftover fried chicken in a handkerchief inside.

Lidded metal pails that were solely designed for food started showing up in the 1850s. These durable products are not hard to find today. Later, the hinged box design became more common. The first true lunch boxes are distinguished by a handle and a clasp or other piece of hardware that locks the lid in place. The first patents were registered around the 1860s.

The Turn of the Century

The first commercial lunch boxes for kids debuted in 1902. The small, handled metal boxes were made to look like picnic baskets and were decorated with scenes of children at play.

There was a landmark development in 1904 when a German company produced the first insulated beverage container. The vacuum flask was named Thermos after the Greek word for heat.

Thermoses slowed the transfer of heat in or out so that hot liquids stayed hot and cold liquids stayed cold. Not only did Thermoses make lunch more enjoyable, but they made it safer to eat. Thermos eventually began making lunch boxes that included a vacuum flask. The kits are still popular today.

It’s important to note that not all Thermos products are made by Thermos; the original manufacturer failed to protect the trademarked name. A judge ruled in 1962 that competitors could market their products as thermoses if they used a lowercase T.

By the 1920s, adult lunch boxes were being constructed of chrome and copper in addition to tin, and there was greater variety. A man’s metal box might be painted black or red, and children’s boxes came with animal, county fair or circus motifs.


In a hotel lobby in New York City in 1929, a man approached Walt Disney and offered him $300 cash for the right to feature Mickey Mouse on a kids’ writing tablet he was designing.

Disney needed the money at the time, so licensed merchandising was born. Global retail sales of Disney merchandise topped $53 billion in 2017.

In 1935, Mickey Mouse became the first licensed character to appear on a lunch box. Various characters have now paraded through school lunchrooms across the country for more than 80 years.

The Mickey Mouse lunch box was actually an oval-shaped bucket with a wire handle. Mickey's supporting cast, pals Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto, cavorted around the bottom. The product didn’t contain a thermos, but it had a slide-out tray and was marketed as a lunch kit. It sold for around 10 or 20 cents.

Few Depression-era parents could spring for one. In the Library of Congress, there's a 1930s photograph of old-style, undecorated lunch pails lined up on the shelf of a classroom in rural Wisconsin.

Today, the Mickey Mouse kit is one of the rarest and most prized collectible lunch boxes.

The Golden Age of Lunch Boxes

Not much changed until TVs became ubiquitous in homes in the 1950s. Aladdin Industries was the first to capitalize on popular shows.

Aladdin already manufactured virtually bulletproof lunch boxes. The fact that they never needed replacing made them unprofitable. Executives suddenly realized that featuring the latest and greatest TV characters would result in kids getting a new lunch box every fall.

The TV cowboy Hopalong Cassidy paved the way for popular movies, toys, dolls, cartoon strip characters, comic book icons, astronauts, sports figures, superheroes and pop bands. Hello Kitty has enjoyed a long run in cafeterias as have Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach from the Nintendo Super Mario Bros. franchise. Even Barack Obama has emerged from pint-sized backpacks. As a conversation-starter and means of self-expression, the lunch box can't be beat.

Unlike some other collectibles, lunch boxes are fairly easy to date. If you know when a TV show or toy was popular, it’s easy to date a lunch box that features it.

Here’s a severely abbreviated list of lunch boxes from the golden ‘50s and ‘60s that might spark your interest:

• Archies • Barbie • Black Beauty • Bonanza • Bullwinkle • Captain Kangaroo • Daniel Boone • Flintstones • Flipper • G.I. Joe • Godzilla • Gunsmoke • Jetsons • Jungle Book • Lassie • Lone Ranger • Lost in Space • Magilla Gorilla • Miss America • Monkees • Munsters • Peanuts • Peter Pan • Roy Rogers and Dale Evans • Star Trek • Underdog • Wagon Train • Wizard of Oz • Woody Woodpecker • Yogi Bear

Materials and Quality

Metal was the standard for many years. Cheaply made vinyl lunch boxes debuted in 1959, but they soon gave way to more durable molded plastic models.

Some degree of rust is to be expected in older vintage lunch boxes, but hinges and locks should be nice and stable. Take a good whiff of the box's interior and thermos. Your collectible shouldn’t stink up the house.

Remember that retro lunch boxes may not be safe to use. Also, washing and wear decrease value over time.

What Determines Value?

As with anything else, age, condition and rarity come into play.

A very old box in mint condition could be worth less than a modern one that’s seen better days but is rarer. It also gets tricky when a manufacturer did a limited run with a unique additional feature such as a seasonal motif. If there’s an unusual story attached to a lunch box or its manufacturer, it might be extremely valuable.

Here are some of the most sought-after lunch boxes:

• Superman, 1954

On the lid, the beloved superhero battles a giant robot above a blazing fire. The kit includes a vacuum bottle. It was made by Universal Industries and is extremely rare.

• Toppie, 1957

Toppie the Elephant was the plaid-clad mascot of Top Value Trading Stamps, which were issued by Kroger groceries in Dayton, Ohio. Since you could only buy the lunch box using your stamps in those stores, it’s estimated that fewer than a dozen Toppie boxes exist today.

• The Beatles, 1963

The Fab Four are depicted rocking against a blue background. Because young girls were unwilling to replace the lunch boxes, it's rare to find one in good condition.

• Orbit, 1963

Production came to an abrupt halt when it was discovered that Thermos, the manufacturer, had lifted images of John Glenn from the pages of National Geographic. This was one time when getting into hot water wasn’t a good thing for Thermos.

• Rambo, 1985

There is no truth to the rumor that metal boxes fell out of favor because parents feared they could be used as weapons. However, if it were true, it would be highly ironic: The last metal lunch box for kids featured Rambo wielding an AK-47.

Whether you’re looking to invest in retro lunch boxes or simply collect them for their nostalgic value, hunting them down is an engaging and rewarding pastime.

Your Opinion Matters!


Retro Lunchbox Reviews & Additional Articles

New: Our editorial list of additional articles. We decided to gather informartion all around the internet and present you a list of helpful, external links to interesting reads about the best retro lunchboxes and their reviews and guides.

Reviews When I first posted my initial bento style lunch box review six years ago, I got crabby about the fact that one of them wasn't quite tall enough to fit a large, stacked  ...
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Reviews We've got you covered with our cool retro metal lunch boxes. Available in three classic colors, these lunch boxes are a tasty addition to any More reviews. ...
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Buying Guide Iconic school lunchboxes through the ages. Other school supplies, like textbooks, vintage educational technology, and of Toys & Prices, which contains one of the most up-to-date lunch-box price guides. use them to buy items like a yellow lunch box featuring the program's whimsical plaid mascot. ...
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Best If you had to choose one, and ONLY one favorite lunch box, which one would it be? 101 Vintage Lunch Boxes That Will Make You Want To Be A Kid Again. If you had to Get all the best Tasty recipes in your inbox!retro lunch boxes for sale1980s plastic lunch boxes1990s lunch box1970's lunch boxesvintage lunch boxes 1960sclassic lunch boxPeople also search for ...
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Buying Guide So if you're out vintage shopping and you think you've struck gold, A true vintage lunch box will also be heavier than an imposter, as those early by Mark Bellomo, pub 2013, and from Warman's Lunch Boxes Field Guide. ...
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The Retro Lunchboxes of Our Choice At a Glance

You're not convinced by the previous writings about retro lunchboxes? Of course you can just choose by visual impression, that's why we present you all our chosen products at a single glance. A click on any image is enough to open an external link to the best offer we could find.

Tips from YouTube about Retro Lunchbox

Today - My Vintage Lunchbox Collection

Follow me on the Twitters! Today we're taking a peek inside my collection of vintage lunchboxes! A BUNCH of you were asking ...

Disclaimer: This video is not from us, but we found it relevant enough to show it here.


Conclusion for this Retro Lunchbox Buying Guide in August 2019

Finally, we want to present you our rating criteria for our retro lunchbox comparison, so you can better understand and comprehend our recommendations and the rating process itself. Furthermore, we still ask you to keep your eyes open for short term deals in order to make some great bargains with retro lunchbox in 2019.

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