|Lunch boxes galore. Image from wiki commons|
|Wags 'n Whiskers lunch box.1978. Wiki Commons|
Although lunch boxes themselves had been around for a while, pictures on lunch boxes became particularly popular in the 1950s when lithographed images on metal (which had been used since the late1800s for the production of tin toys) combined with the emerging 'youth market' of the 1950s and 60s and the aggressive marketing campaigns that accompanied it.
|1935 Mickey Mouse lunch box. Smithsonian,|
From the 50s onwards, lunch boxes designed for school children were produced en masse, with anything from Nesquick and Hopalong Cassidy to Barbie or the Beatles imprinted on the top and they served the dual purpose of functionality and marketing. In more recent times, rust-free molded plastic and vinyl replaced metal as the lunch box of choice for manufacturers, though in 2002 consumer confidence was shaken somewhat by revelations that some vinyl lunchboxes contained hazardous amounts of lead, compelling the industry to test lead levels before sale.
|Classic early 20th century lunch box and thermos|