Amy needs to know

Guest Blog by Amy Snider


Oh how the lunchbox has transformed from the Holly Hobbie lunchbox I carried in my youth! Sturdy, hard plastic with a matching thermos for juice or milk, my lunchbox (like my classmates’) was a reflection of my personal style.

These days, lunchboxes are designed with functionality, food safety and the environment in mind. In fact, this stackable melamine lunchbox keeps each layer separate and well-sealed so there is no need for additional packaging.

The contents of our lunchboxes have seen changes as well. My ’80s grade-school lunch consisted of a peanut butter or tuna fish sandwich, an apple, two cookies and a juice box. With peanut bans and concerns over mercury, my favourite retro sandwich choices are no longer acceptable.

In the ’90s, processed treats like “Lunchables”, “Fruit by the Foot” (an overstatement to be sure) and “Dunkaroos” were popular for their portability and kid appeal. But with a return to whole foods in this decade, “Lunchbox 2000” has undergone another evolution.

As I’m currently compiling info on lunches past, present and future for an upcoming presentation, I would love to hear your reminiscences about your favourite lunchbox fillers from the ’80s and ’90s. Likewise, feel free to tell me about what goes into the lunchboxes you fill today.


13 Responses to Amy needs to know

  1. Rebecca says:

    Oh, I was always excited when Mom packed a Little Debbie snack cake in the lunchbox. And those little bags of chips. Makes me wonder if the packaging was really the thing …

  2. Adrienne says:

    I had a Fraggle Rock Lunch box in the late 80s and I used to get excited about tuna sandwiches, too. And egg salad. And goldfish crackers.

  3. danamccauley says:

    I carried my lunch in a flask in high school. Well, only on Fridays to be honest.
Okay, so I kid, it was just every second Friday.
    In seriousness, I didn’t take a lunch to school – I walked home and my grandma made me grilled cheese and Campbell’s tomato soup when I was in grade school and in high school I have no idea what I ate. Likely french fries.
    These days, I send a lunch to school with my son. His lunches range from Gryfe’s pizza to veggie maki, to ham sandwiches. I’d send him tuna if he would eat it.
    For myself, I eat more canned tuna filled sandwiches than is likely good for me. In fact, you may be able to use me as a thermometer soon since I likely have more exposure to mercury than most people.

  4. Natashya says:

    I want that bento/tiffin/whatever it is called!
    So pretty! Where is it from?
    No PB meant that my kids got a lot of bagel and cream cheese lunches.
    I am still traumatized by the lunches I got as a kid.. like the time I got a bag of button mushrooms.. and nothing else.. I didn’t eat them, just left them in the bag on my little hook until they turned black and destroyed the library book that also happened to be in the bag..

  5. Amy Snider says:

    Very clever Dana! We are well aware of your tuna fixation at the TK…

    I didn’t even think about high school… liquid lunch Friday aside, it would be cool to capture info on highschool lunch experiences too.

  6. Vivien says:

    What about the drink – SunnyD? It was hit with its small bottle design when it first came out.

    From what I recall, I didn’t like its after taste, but that was one 🙂

  7. Cheryl says:

    I looooove those styles of lunchbox. I just saw some at a chi chi food store in San Francisco and wanted to snatch them right up.

    I think I had a Charlie’s Angels lunchbox as a kid, but today my kids use a Laptop Lunchbox (, which I love. It has little colored compartments and I find I get more creative with what I put in it because it’s nicely segmented out.

  8. I had a brown-paper bag. Now it would probably be a reusable (loose-able?) cloth bag.

  9. I went home for lunch in grade school, but in high school it was brown bags and Saran wrap sandwiches which got squished in your backpack. Ah… memories.

  10. Amy Snider says:

    I haven’t found a Canadian source but for Americans, I think you can order a similar lunchbox online at

    The one in the picture was from Graham and Green Co UK

  11. Cheryl A says:

    I used to walk home for lunch in elementary school (I was a latchkey kid). Often I would heat leftovers, or make grilled cheese so I could watch Laverne and Shirley reruns before I ran back to make the bell.
    As I got older I stayed and ate all day, not just at lunch. As a competitive swimmer – at the time – I ate ridiculous amounts of food. Those giant Costco muffins or cheese sticks, a couple of sandwiches, fruit, cookies I baked, yoghurt, and I had a weird thing for pudding snacks back then. My lunch usually filled two brown paper bags.
    Now, when I’m at work, lunch is usually leftovers and I bring a snack of yoghurt and fruit for late morning. And although the tease me mercilessly at the office, I carry a lunch box sometimes. They are just so damn handy. I picked mine up at a candy store in Halifax.

  12. Diana says:

    My family and I, like many Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong, moved to Canada in the late 80’s, so my lunch box was filled with mostly Chinese leftovers, such as fried rice. The most memorable non-Chinese food that I packed for lunch were PB n’ J, sandwich with luncheon meat, and when my dad prepared it, a more wholesome sandwich with lettuce and turkey meat. I remember bringing carrots, little teddy bear cookies, and grape juice boxes also. Today, my lunch box is still filled with Chinese leftovers most of the time, but sometimes, I will make grilled chicken breast with orzo or couscous, or cold noodles. Things haven’t changed that much for me.

  13. I love the containers – but I tend to freeze many, maaany containers of soups or bean dishes (call it chickpea obsession!), and then have a selection for lunches. So they need to be seal-able, freeze-able, and heat-able. SO cute these are though!!!

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