What does the word "vintage" conjure up for you? For us, it's homemade chocolate chip cookies, red and white checkered tablecloths, home-cooked Sunday dinners, and that whole Donna Reed fantasy life. Lots of memories are tied in with food, whether it’s Grandma’s cookies, or Mom’s Sunday roasted chicken. Some of the more vivid memories for millions of kids everywhere center on their home-packed lunches, lovingly stowed in their favorite lunch box. The ultimate status symbol for a grade school kiddo, lunch boxes carried your Wonder Bread sandwich, provided a conversation starter with your buddy in the cafeteria about whether Superman or Batman was superior (it’s Superman, clearly), and sometimes contained embarrassing notes from your mom. For lovers of vintage pop culture memorabilia, collecting everyday items is comforting, and some of the biggest collectibles these days are vintage metal lunch boxes.
In 1950, a company called Aladdin produced the first true lunch boxes of the era, decorating plain metal boxes with stamped pictures of Hopalong Cassidy. Then, in 1953, riding the cowboy and Indian craze of the time, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans parlayed their popular Western-themed TV show into a lunch box, which sold 2.5 million units in its first year of production.
For the next 30 years or so, metal lunch boxes entered a golden age; pop icons from The Beatles to Barbie were featured on their own box. And let’s be honest, having a cool lunch box was what really got you into the "in" crowd in elementary school (along with how good your dessert was and whether or not you were willing to share and/or trade).
In 1985, after a group of concerned mothers in Florida protested against lunch boxes for fear that they could be used as weapons, the last metal lunchbox (which ironically featured the rather violent Rambo) rolled off the production line.
Back in the day, just having a cool lunch box was enough to be proud of. But these days, if you happened to keep your lunch box from way back when in mint condition, then you might have something to be really proud of on your hands: a potential gold mine.
We’ve found the 10 most insanely valuable lunch boxes out there, and ranked them for you — the prices some of these fetch could buy you a new car! Would you pay thousands of dollars for a dented Dudley Do-right box? How about 240-Robert? Read on to find out more about the coolest and most expensive vintage lunchboxes on the market today.
Check out the slideshow above to discover the 10 vintage lunch boxes that are worth a lot today.