Remember when getting ready for the new school year included picking out a shiny new metal lunch box? Starting in 1951, the lunch box became a must have school accessory, a cool way to let everyone know what your favorite new TV show was.
The reign of metal lunch box ended in 1986 when the industry went plastic, influenced by soft packaging technology and a ruling by the Florida legislature that they were “lethal weapons.”
Late to the game, lunch boxes with Black characters did not appear until the Julia lunch box. Julia, starring Diahann Carol in the title role, premiered on television in 1968. The series offered a different view of family life with a Black single working mother and her son. King Seeley (The Thermos Company) produced the Julia metal lunchbox with matching steel thermos in 1969.
The Harlem Globetrotters dominated the 1970’s. They had a cartoon series, a pinball game and even made it onto Gilligan’s Island. They also played basketball. In 1971, one year after the premiere of the first Globetrotters Saturday morning show, King Seeley released a metal lunchbox with matching steel thermos.
The Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids cartoon premiered on Saturday mornings in 1972 and ran for more than ten years. In 1973, King Seeley produced the Fat Albert metal lunchbox with matching plastic thermos. It was the first lunchbox ever to have exclusively Black cartoon characters pictured in the artwork.
The Wee Pals cartoon premiered the same year as Fat Albert in 1972. In 1973, King Seeley introduced the Wee Pals Kid Power! lunch box with plastic thermos.
Hong Kong Phooey ran for one season in 1974. In 1975, King Seeley produced this metal lunchbox with matching plastic thermos.
It took two years after the first airing of The A-Team and Mr. T, before King Seeley released this metal lunchbox with plastic matching thermos in 1985.
All of these lunch boxes are highly collectible and several are in the Museum Of UnCut Funk Collection.