The first children's lunch box based on a TV show came from Alladin Industries in 1950. Made of metal and priced at $2.39, it was a huge hit: "Hoppy" lunch box sales reached 600,000 within a year.
The Lone Ranger
The character debuted on the radio, in 1933. But it was the TV series (1949–1957) that propelled the Lone Ranger and his horse Silver to lunch box greatness.
DC Comics hit it big when it acquired this superhero character from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938. Just imagine how many PB&Js got transported from mom's kitchen to school in tin boxes just like this one.
Produced by Hanna-Barbera, "The Huckleberry Hound Show" (1958-1961) included three animated segments—one devoted to Huck, another to a couple of mice named Pixie and Dixie, and a third to a bear named Yogi.
By 1961, it was clear that Yogi, a far more popular character than Huckleberry Hound, deserved his own show. Hanna-Barbera gave it to him. Vinyl lunch boxes had debuted in 1959, so Yogi got one of those too.
Like the vinyl lunch box, Barbie debuted in 1959 (her official birthday is March 9, the day Mattel unveiled her at the American International Toy Fair in New York). And it wasn't very long before she appeared on a lunch box as well.
Hanna-Barbera's original space-age animation series actually debuted in primetime, but only lasted from September 1962 through March 1963. It then aired on Saturday mornings for decades. Little Elroy Jetson was perhaps the only family member of an age to make use of this lunch box.
Anyone who was in grade school in the mid-1960s saw a lot of these Fab Four lunch box–thermos combos, just one of the many ripple effects of Beatlemania.
Coonskin caps and fringed shirts weren't the only means of showing fealty to this favorite TV adventure hero. You could also carry this lunch box, a fitting tribute to the great Disney actor Fess Parker.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
"Voyage" ran for four years (1964–1968), making it Irwin Allen's longest-running sci-fi series on TV. The first 32 episodes (of 110 total) were filmed in black and white, but all the lunch boxes were in living color.
The Flying Nun
When the TV series debuted in 1967, Sister Bertrille (Sally Field) explained her abilities thusly: "When lift plus thrust is greater than load plus drag, anything can fly." We're not sure if this works while carrying a tin box containing a tunafish sandwich.
James Bond and the Pink Panther inspired Mel Brooks and Buck Henry to create Agents 86 and 99. "Get Smart" first aired in 1965 and ran for five years. The pooch on the lunch box is Fang/Agent 13. After Season 2, Fang is shuffled off to a desk job "burying evidence," never to be heard from again.
I Dream of Jeannie
The sitcom about a 2,000-year-old genie (Barbara Eden) living with an astronaut (Larry Hagman) in Cocoa Beach, Florida, aired from 1965–1970. This lunch box may have been designed girls, but Jeannie captured the interest of a lot of boys as well.
Hey, hey … they ain't the Beatles. Still, the Not-So-Fab Four, a made-for-TV rock and roll band, did all right for themselves. The show premiered in 1966 and lasted a couple of years—long enough to spawn a variety of lunch box designs.
Before they were flight attendants, stewardesses had the most glamorous profession a little girl could imagine, flying all over the world in their candy-colored designer mini dresses and sleek pageboy 'dos. One little girl we know of can still remember the way that lunch box smelled, even when it was empty and no matter how much mom washed it out.
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