Lunch Box Memories tells the story of the metal lunch box, from its humble beginnings in the 1860s to its demise in the 1980s. It follows changes in the appearance and design of the lunch box, from the strictly functional tins and pails of our agricultural past, to illustrated metal lunch boxes with dazzling treatments of contemporary media stars, to today’s plastic and vinyl containers. The exhibition also touches upon the 75-year rivalry between two major companies, American Thermos and Aladdin Industries.
Like an old song, a metal lunch box takes us back in time, recalling school days or workdays, favourite foods, a friend. Yet, the boxes can move us beyond personal reminiscence. They comprise a kind of national memory, with illustrations reminding us of important themes in American popular culture. With their vibrant images, these boxes reintroduce us to our challenges, our dreams, our heroes, ourselves. A lunch box was not merely a lunch box, but a statement of who we were.
Lunch Box Memories recalls the times and places, the heroes and heroines, the fads and fantasies of our youth—a time when we began to define our choices, our ideas, and ourselves.
Song memories and really stories are the artefacts of the past I hope in my case.