Kids Need a Cool Lunch Box, and Marketers Know It

Who are the stars stamped in metal these days?

According to the U.S. government, more than 50 million of our children head off to school each morning, and roughly 32 million will eat the lunch prepared by the cafeteria ladies. That means 18 million kids brown-bag it. 

Photo: Todd Huffman; Prop Syling: Helen Quinn

Or, lunch-box it.

While media and marketing vehicles geared to youngsters are trending digital, here's something to chew on: Lunch boxes have, functionally speaking, barely changed at all. (It would be hard to imagine anything more analog, in fact, than the lunch pail.)

What is different are the faces stamped into that metal. Snoopy has ceded his spot at the lunch table to Elmo, while One Direction, not the Bee Gees, is headlining. Still, the lunch box is as popular as ever.

It is “a physical way for kids to choose and represent their personalities,” explains Julie Ryan, vp, marketing at Thermos.

Parents are a factor, too, says Allison Ellis, owner of Seattle consultancy Hopscotch Marketing and the mother of two grade schoolers.

With grown-ups concerned about the quality of the food their kids are served in school, “you have this new generation of parents making lunch for their kids,” Ellis says. “But even an affluent parent who packs an organic lunch will serve it up in SpongeBob.

“Kids need to have the cool lunch box—and marketers know it.”

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