When I was a little girl I had a She-Ra lunch box. I thought it was the coolest thing around. My friends and I would complement each other on our lunch boxes. They had Barbie, Lion King, and Smurfette lunch boxes, which were all nice, but I knew mine was the best. After all who could beat a woman wielding a sword and fighting bad guys on a flying horse! No one could. Our lunchboxes were status symbols in the lunch room.
The National Museum of American History is currently honoring these lunch containers and the role they played in our past. In the Stars and Stripes café you can find a window display of 75 illustrated metal lunch boxes and beverage containers. These lunch containers reflect how our culture has changed over the years. Lunch pails, formed from recycled coffee tins, used by workers in the 1880’s sit next to lunch boxes that show images from “Return of the Jedi” or “The Beatles”.
Lunch box companies and film studios recognized the power of children in mass-market consumer goods. Kids wanted to have a lunch box with their favorite TV characters. Beginning in the 1950’s lunch box companies were happy to provide. They bought the rights to use images from studios, who in turn saw lunch boxes as cheep advertising.
The window display allows visitors to see the progression of advertising and technology, while providing viewers with a sense of nostalgia.