40+ fun vintage lunch boxes that are seriously iconic

Vintage lunch boxes at ClickAmericana com

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Vintage lunch boxes from the mid-century are a very specific, quirky slice of Americana. Featuring fanciful designs, lunch boxes back then featured everything from scenes of space adventures to favorite cartoon characters or TV shows.

For many kids, picking out a new lunch box for the year was one of the annual rituals of the back-to-school process. Today, these vintage lunch boxes offer insight into what was especially entertaining to kids from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Aside from their basic functionality — carrying sandwiches and snacks to school, of course! — they showcase a mix of art and the kind of retro pop culture that inspires our nostalgia and makes them special to this day.

Vintage Star Trek TV show lunch box at ClickAmericana com

During the golden age of television, lunch boxes transformed into personal statements. Kids showed off their interests through images of pop bands like The Beatles or sci-fi classics like Star Trek on their boxes.

Today, the most sought-after vintage lunch boxes are those with unique and colorful designs, valued by collectors for their visual appeal, kitsch factor, condition and rarity.

Below, we’ve put together a collection of images and ads featuring some classic vintage lunch boxes — each with its own story and style from years gone by.

“Welcome Back Kotter” TV show vintage lunchbox

Welcome Back Kotter TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

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“Mr. Merlin” 80s TV show vintage lunch box

Mr Merlin TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“The Partridge Family” TV show themed lunchbox

The Partridge Family TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

MORE: Meet the Partridge Family & see the TV show intro – C’mon get happy!


Early “Brady Bunch” show lunch tin

Early Brady Bunch TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

MORE: About The Brady Bunch: Meet the cast, see the opening credits, plus get the theme song lyrics


Wee Pals: Kid Power! TV vintage lunchbox

Wee Pals Kid Power TV vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

DON’T MISS: Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was innovative Saturday morning TV with a message for kids (1972-1985)


“The Flintstones” TV show classic cartoon lunchbox

The Flintstones TV show cartoon vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

MORE: How the Flintstones TV show got its start, plus see the intro & theme song lyrics… Yabba dabba doo!


“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” classic children’s lunchbox

The Man from UNCLE vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

AQUARIUS KISS Fun Box - Sturdy Tin Storage Box with Plastic Handle & Embossed Front Cover -...
  • A GREAT ITEM FOR YOUNG AND THE YOUNG AT HEART: Nice design and sturdy construction is was you’ll get with this KISS tin storage box. Beefy handle and latches with a fully embossed front cover.
  • SHOW YOU HAVE STYLE! This large tin fun box measures 6.8 x 8.6 x 3.9 inches, Includes designs on front, back, top and bottom, Embossed front cover, Ages 14+, Not designed for food.
  • LOOKING FOR KISS GIFTS? Loved by all, this Kiss Large Gen 2 Fun Box is the ultimate Kiss Gift for fans of all ages. Perfect gift for birthdays, white elephant, stocking stuffers and Winter Holidays

“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” 60s show lunch box

Laugh-In TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Hee Haw” retro TV show lunch pail

Hee Haw TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Scooby-Doo: The Headless Horseman of Halloween” retro cartoon lunchbox

Scooby Doo TV cartoon vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

THERMOS Novelty Lunch Kit, Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine
  • Reduce waste and save money by packing your child's lunch in a reusable THERMOS brand lunch kit
  • Superior quality closed cell polyethylene foam insulation keeps food fresh
  • Comfortable, padded carrying handle

“Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” vintage lunchbox

Gomer Pyle vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


Vintage Walt Disney World lunchbox with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto

Walt Disney World vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


Disneyland park vintage lunch tin

Disneyland vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Strawberry Shortcake” cute and classic lunchbox

Strawberry Shortcake vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

AQUARIUS Care Bears Fun Box - Sturdy Tin Storage Box with Plastic Handle & Embossed Front Cover -...
  • A GREAT ITEM FOR YOUNG AND THE YOUNG AT HEART: Nice design and sturdy construction is was you’ll get with this Care Bears tin storage box. Beefy handle and latches with a fully embossed front cover.
  • SHOW YOU HAVE STYLE! This large tin fun box measures 6.8 x 8.6 x 3.9 inches, Includes designs on front, back, top and bottom, Embossed front cover, Ages 14+, Not designed for food.
  • LOOKING FOR CARE BEAR GIFTS? Loved by all, this Care Bears Large Gen 2 Fun Box is the ultimate Care Bears Gift for fans of all ages. Perfect gift for birthdays, white elephant, stocking stuffers and...

“Pac-Man” 80s video game vintage lunchbox

Pac Man 80s video game vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

Labyrinth Fun Box
  • UNIQUE GIFT FOR LABYRINTH FANS: This Labyrinth themed box is created with the fan in mind, grab one for a family member, young and old, as a gift for their birthday, Christmas or any occasion
  • RAISED EMBOSSED ART: The perfect Labyrinth inspired collectible storage companion to take on the go or display proudly on the shelf at home.
  • PERFECT STORAGE SIZE: Store your favorite merch, toys, collectibles, crafting accessories, trading cards, office supplies, or gift it to your friends and family

“Little House on the Prairie” Classic TV show lunch tin

Little House on the Prairie TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

Sale
Toynk The Golden Girls Cast Retro Metal Tin Lunch Box Tote Exclusive
  • SHOW YOU HAVE STYLE! A fun retro design and sturdy construction is was you’ll get with this Golden Girls tin storage box.
  • QUALITY BUILD: Beefy real metal construction with robust carry handle and latch system.
  • SPACIOUS SIZE: Lunch box measures 7.5 x 6.54 x 3.94 inches.

“Holly Hobbie” vintage lunchbox

Holly Hobbie vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“H.R. Pufnstuf” classic children’s show lunch box

HR Pufnstuf TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“The Bugaloos” Saturday morning TV show lunch tin

The Bugaloos TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

AQUARIUS Sesame Street Big Bird Fun Box - Sturdy Tin Storage Box with Plastic Handle & Embossed...
  • UNIQUE GIFT FOR SESAME STREET FANS: This Sesame Street themed box is created with the fan in mind, grab one for a family member, young and old, as a gift for their birthday, Christmas or any occasion
  • RAISED EMBOSSED ART: The perfect Sesame Street inspired collectible storage companion to take on the go or display proudly on the shelf at home.
  • PERFECT STORAGE SIZE: Store your favorite merch, toys, collectibles, crafting accessories, trading cards, office supplies, or gift it to your friends and family

Miss America 1972 – Laurie Lea Schaefer lunchbox

Miss America vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Mary Poppins” classic Disney musical lunch tin

Mary Poppins movie vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Super Powers” DC comics vintage lunchbox with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman

Super Powers comics TV vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

Sale
Surreal Entertainment Giant-Size X-Men Tin Titans Previews Exclusive Lunch Box with Beverage...
  • A PREVIEWS Exclusive
  • Featuring cover art from the iconic Giant-Size X-Men #1
  • Includes a fully illustrated 10oz beverage container/soup cup

“The Incredible Hulk” vintage lunchbox

The Incredible Hulk vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

Marvel's Avengers XL Tin Lunchbox with Window
  • Measures 9 x 6-3/4 x 3-1/2 deep with handle lock and hinge
  • Safe and tested for food use
  • New Window feature to see what's inside!

Stunt rider Evel Kneivel retro lunchbox

Stunt rider Evel Kneivel vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“G.I. Joe” retro action figures themed lunchbox

GI Joe toys vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


NFL quarterback – American football lunchbox

NFL quarterback American football vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“The Addams Family” classic cartoon lunchbox

The Addams Family cartoon vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“The Rifleman” western TV series lunchbox

The Rifleman Tv show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

Sale
Mcphee Cowgirl Lunchbox by Accoutrements
  • A chuckwagon you hold in your hand
  • For those times when she can’t get to a chuckwagon, it’s important for a cowgirl to have a carrier for her vittles.
  • This 8" x 7" x 4" (20.3 cm x 17.8 cm x 10.2 cm) metal lunchbox with a plastic handle is as beautiful as it is practical. Includes a vinyl cowgirl dangle.

“The Magic of Lassie” vintage movie lunchbox

The Magic of Lassie vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“The Legend of the Lone Ranger” classic western 80s lunch box

The Legend of the Lone Ranger vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Kung Fu” 70s TV show lunch tin

Kung Fu Tv show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com

AQUARIUS E.T. Fun Box - Sturdy Tin Storage Box with Plastic Handle & Embossed Front Cover -...
  • UNIQUE GIFT FOR E.T. FANS: This E.T. themed Fun Box is created with the fan in mind, grab one for a family member, young and old, as a gift for their birthday, Christmas or any occasion
  • RAISED EMBOSSED ART: The perfect E.T. collectible storage companion to take on the go or display proudly on the shelf at home.
  • PERFECT STORAGE SIZE: Store your favorite merch, toys, collectibles, crafting accessories, trading cards, office supplies, or gift it to your friends and family

Rough Rider bike racing vintage lunchbox

Rough Rider bike racing vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


Classic “Popeye” cartoon lunchbox from the 60s

Old Popeye cartoon vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Popeye” retro cartoon 80s lunchbox

Classic Popeye cartoon vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Howdy Doody” children’s TV series

Howdy Doody TV show vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


“Woody Woodpecker” retro cartoon lunch box

Woody Woodpecker cartoon vintage lunchbox at ClickAmericana com


Back to school with Aladdin (1955)

There’s a sparkle of health that comes from good, nourishing food — a sparkle of enthusiasm that comes from owning a color Aladdin lunch kit and vacuum bottle. That’s especially true when both kit and bottle are decorated with their favorite hero or heroine. (Lunch box in image featuring ‘Wild Bill Hickok’)

Three exclusive features… especially important for boys and girls.

1. Non-grip pouring lip… prevents spilling, stained clothes.
2. ‘Quik-Lok’ cup & collar… twist, it’s off, twist, it’s on.
3. Sweet seal stopper… stays sweet and clean, outlasts cork.

Vintage 1950s Wild Bill Hickock thermos and lunch box

 

Thermos brings you the shatterproof lunch bottle for kids. (1973)

Thermos has just ended a shattering experience for your child, and a costly replacement problem for you.

This virtually unbreakable new bottle is now available in Thermos school lunch kits. It’s completely safe and will never shatter because it contains no glass. Yet it keeps milk cold (or cocoa hot) all morning, because it’s insulated with a highly efficient urethane specially chosen by Thermos — the people who know more than anybody about keeping things hot or cold.

This bottle gives you other advantages, too: there’s an inside stopper that prevents spilling while the top is being unscrewed. And the cup has a real handle your child can get a grip on.

Look for Thermos school lunch kits the only ones with The Roughnecks — the amazing bottles that are tougher than kids.

Peanuts thermos and lunch box (1973)


Vintage Thermos lunchboxes (1977)

Aaaaay! Free stuff from Thermos. And a new gang of lunch kits, too.

Your kids will go bananas over our new bunch of lunch kits. There’s “The Fonz.” King Kong. Snoopy. Rocky Roughneck. And more. Each comes with our kid-tough Roughneck bottle.

And in special displays, they come with coupons for Crunchola Bars, Jif Peanut Butter, Chocolate Flavor PDQ, Flintstones Vitamins, Hunt’s Snack-Pack Puddings, a lunchbox recipe book and a monster of a poster, too. Whew!

Vintage Thermos lunchboxes (1977)

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. In elementary school in the 70s, every kid had a metal lunch box, which was an extension of their personality. You’d get a new one at the start of every school year, in part because your old one was beat to hell, and probably rusted. And heaven help the poor kid who showed up for the first day of middle school with a lunch box — that kid learned very quickly how uncool lunch boxes suddenly were!

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