Box Chic: Kids and their Parents are Packing Their Own
Paul A. Paterson
April 1, 2003
Scooby Doo Lunch Box
Boxes are as much a part of Back to School as a new pencil case
and a ring binder. Everybody remembers at least one lunch box from
childhood—usually a tin box, maybe even sporting the faces
of The Jetsons or The Dukes of Hazard. Today, revolutions in material
and design have given kids as many style choices in lunch kits as
they have in clothes.
Some of today’s
lunch kits come with molded plastic components designed to hold
sandwiches, salad, fruit and utensils. Others are made of soft nylon
and fold flat for easy storage. Designs have also incorporated the
reality of today's young students, and many kits are suitable for
stuffing into already heavily laden backpacks.
has definitely been taking place," said Peter Cobb, co-founder
and vice president of marketing for the Web-based luggage retailer,
ebags.com. "We have a line of backpacks with
detachable lunch boxes that's selling very well now. It's the convenience
of whether it's insulated or a sealing agent to prevent spillage.
These are features that will continue to be built in. Some of them
are integrating water bottles."
years, Thermos has been the brand name most associated
with the school lunch, and Julie Ryan, Licensing Manager for the
company, believes children enjoyed the multi-purpose nature of the
traditional square lunch box, a fact that sustains a demand for
always going to be that need for the hard kits for younger kids,"
she said. "It's a lunch holder, but also it's a crayon holder
and a toy car holder, and it's also dishwasher safe."
The wider selection
has expanded the market as well, making it socially acceptable for
Tweens to carry a lunch box to school. New material and space age
designs have made the kits more convenient to transport, and Baby
Boomer nostalgia may be playing a role in expanding the market.
say lunch boxes are enjoying something of a revival," observed
Michael Dobbs, vice president of the Web retailer lunchboxes.com,
which sells more than 150 varieties of lunch boxes through its website.
"I think it's in part because of the variety and improvements
in designs, but also as the 50s and 60s get farther away, there
has developed a nostalgia about those lunch boxes. You're getting
more collectors. It's more like a part of pop culture history."
Spiderman Lunch Box
says young girls are more likely to continue using lunch boxes longer
than boys, noting some groups use the vintage metal lunch boxes
as a fashion accessory, as well as a way to transport a PB &
J. He's also noticed a slight reduction in both the use of licensed
characters and the inclusion of a thermos in the design.
Cobb and Ryan
agree that other forces, including environmental awareness and health
consciousness, have worked to develop a market among even older
consumers. Lunch in many companies involves meeting in a park or
concourse over a bagged lunch made at home.
"I do that
every day," said Cobb. "I figure I save an hour a day.
Rather than driving an hour to a restaurant, I eat at my desk and
get more work done. I'm also in control of what I eat as well, so
it's a healthy choice. More people are deciding to stay in and eat."