Meanwhile, in the cafeteria
If lunch was your favorite subject in school, or if you are a lifelong student of pop culture, don't miss Lunchbox Inside and Out: From Comic Books to Cult TV and Beyond. Authors Jack Mingo and Erin Barrett start with an appetizer-portion of history, charting the transformation of lunchboxes from the utilitarian accessory of working-class men to the domain of children and marketing tool. "Planned obsolescence," the concept of "convincing customers to habitually replace perfectly good products for the sake of novelty and style," played a large role in the development of lunchboxes as we know them today, argue Mingo and Barrett. They say it all started with the introduction of Aladdin's Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox, closely followed by American Thermos' Roy Rogers and Dale Evans model. From there, things took off, leading to all sorts of tie-ins to TV shows, toys, movies and sports teams. Lunchbox Inside and Out covers the big players, among them King Seely, Aladdin, American Thermos, ADCO Liberty and Ohio Arts, as well as the evolution from low-resolution decals on metal boxes to elaborate total-box designs on plastic ones. This story of lunchboxes is told in bite-sized morsels, richly illustrated with pieces from the collection of Joe Soucy (examples of which are also crossing the country as part of the Smithsonian's "Lunch Box Memories" show) and includes handy price codes should you stumble upon a treasure in your attic or at your neighbor's yard sale. Among the delights found in the book: several Beatles boxes, a 1935 oval-shaped Disney "lunch kit" featuring Mickey and his cohorts and a host of designs that saw their share of PB&andJ over the years.