Lunch Boxes so Valuable You’d Never Trade Them for Your Buddy’s Twinkies
Remember the joy of finding just the right lunch box when you were a kid? It was so much more than a receptacle to carry your sandwich and snack cakes. It was an announcement to the world about who you were. It was a badge that declared, “I’m a Spider-Man kid,” or “The Care Bears are my thing!”
Those vintage lunch boxes are worth some ridiculous coin these days. How much? Well, here are a few of the most expensive out there that would set you back more than the cost of a couple of Happy Meals.
Lone Ranger ‘Red Band’
Maker: Adco Liberty
Approximate Value: $1,250
Who didn’t love The Lone Ranger? “Hi-ho, Silver. And away!” The Lone Ranger was a wild west superhero, mask and all. This metal lunch box had a couple of versions. One had a blue band around the outside and the other a red band. The red-banded version has had a winning bid of $1,250 at a recent auction.
You’re mentally scanning your attic right now, aren’t you?
Approximate Value: $1,500
This was the lunch box that would boldly take your lunch where no lunch had gone before. A classic, square lunch box, the Star Trek lunch box from Aladdin features a picture of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the front and some action images of Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew on the other sides. In pristine condition, Trekkers can expect to fork over $1,500 or more for this one.
Set your bank account to “stun!”
Approximate Value: $1,550
Of course, memorabilia of the Fab Four never goes out of style. The Beatles blue lunch box from 1966 features images of each band member’s head on the front. Along with the lunch box comes a thermos that shows the group playing its tunes. In mint condition, Beatlemania fans can plan on shelling out $1,550 or more. Apparently, they weren’t kidding when they sang, “Money (That’s What I Want).”
Knights in Armor
Approximate Value: $1,750
The 1950s love them some knights in shining armor stories. “Knights of the Round Table,” “Ivanhoe,” and “Prince Valiant” were fan favorites.
This lunch box isn’t tied to any particular movie, TV show or comic. Instead, it’s just a no-name knight lunch box hoping to piggyback on the success of the genre. Apparently, it worked because this lunch box has sold as high as $1,750. That’ll put a kink in your chain mail!
Maker: Adco Liberty
Approximate Value: $1,787.10
What kid didn’t love Howdy Doody back in the day? This lunch box features Howdy himself on the front and a bunch of his on-air buddies on the rest of the box. At an auction, this rare piece lassoed $1,787.10. Say, kids, what time is it? It’s time to go broke buying a lunch box. In 1954 the average cost of a new car was just a shade over $1,900. Ah, but the memories are priceless. Right?
Maker: King-Seely Thermos Co.
Approximate Value: $2,050
Herman, Eddie, Grandpa and the rest made for a seriously entertaining TV family. As popular as the show was, it’s no easy feat to scare up this lunch box from 1965. To get top dollar one needs to have the accompanying thermos. In perfect shape, this one will put a bite on your wallet to the tune of $2,050 at auction.
Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck
Approximate Value: $2,050
You can’t get much more classic than Mickey and Donald. On one side of this vintage lunch box, you have Mickey, Pluto and Donald’s nephews: Huey, Dewey and Louie. On the other side, you have the duck himself having a picnic with his nephews. What do you put in such a classic lunch box? How about a “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog….”
Maker: King Seeley Thermos Co.
Approximate Value: $2,250
The Beatles can’t settle for just one hit. One of the most iconic songs from one of history’s most iconic bands has become (you guessed it) one of the most iconic lunch boxes ever. The lunch box depicts some of the artwork seen in the uber-groovy music video. However, at $2,250, this collector’s item could leave your finances a bit underwater.
Maker: Okay Industries
Approximate Value: $2,296
The pooch who liked to bite crime in the butt also made for a pretty mean lunch box. From 1971, this box shows the floppy-eared crusader kicking some bad guys, just like on the TV show. Did you know that Underdog was originally just a General Mills character used to sell cereal? Apparently, he did way more than that because for a cool $2,296 you could take an Underdog lunch box to work tomorrow. That’s a lot of Lucky Charms!
Maker: Geuder, Paeschke & Frey
Approximate Value: $2,350
When is a lunch box not a lunch box? When it’s a lunch kit. This Mickey Mouse Lunch Kit could be the granddaddy of all modern lunch boxes. Sold in 1935 for just $.10-$.20 each, they were still a luxury that many couldn’t afford during the depression. According to the Smithsonian, this was the first lunch box produced featuring a character image. Though it may not be the most expensive lunch box out there, it could be the most honored. Ol’ Walt had a couple of good ideas, didn’t he?
Approximate Value: $2,650
One day you’re watching your guilty pleasure show, “Pawn Stars,” and you watch a lady come in with an awesome old lunch box. It’s not square. It’s the metal-type with the rounded top. On it, “The Jetsons” are proudly displayed, and this lady wants $700 for it. Due to some minor damage and the fact that she didn’t have the thermos, she only got $400. Now, in perfect condition, The Jetsons lunch box has rocketed up to $2,650 in mint condition.
Maker: King-Seeley Thermos Co
Approximate Value: $3,200
If there was anything cooler than science fiction in the early 1960s, it was the reality of space travel. The Orbit lunch box from Thermos featured National Geographic images of the Mercury space capsule with John Glenn at the helm as well as a launch photo of the Atlas rocket launching from the space pad. Unfortunately, Thermos didn’t get National Geographic’s permission and had to stop making the lunch boxes. Oops. The Smithsonian Museum has one of these on display. One small step for kids, one giant leap for lunchtime.
Approximate Value: $3,400
Who can forget the not-so-bright Canadian Mountie from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons? This lunch box, featuring the lovable hero, was perfect for taking your poutine to school and making your pals jealous. Now, you can sell it off for a cool $3,400 or better, and get yourself a whole lotta double-double at the Tim Hortons.
Man From Atlantis
Maker: King-Seeley Thermos
Approximate Value: $5,201.91
Just when you realize these are all based on super popular television shows or pop culture icons, you come across this one. “Man From Atlantis” was a short-lived television phenomenon in 1977-78. Four made-for-TV movies led to a series, but the series only lasted one, 13-episode season.
Meanwhile, King-Seeley Thermos made these cool lunch boxes. They halted production faster than you can say “mermaids are real,” and there may only be three of these bad boys left. In 2013 someone put down a cool $5,201.91 on eBay to own one of them.
Approximate Value: $5,222
Finding one of these lunch boxes is almost as rare as finding someone who remembers the TV show “240-Robert.” A cop show set in L.A., it only lasted a short time, and the run of lunch boxes made was small. One guy who worked at the production plant bought one and hung on to it. Because there are so few left, he apprehended a nifty $5,222 on an eBay auction.
Maker: King-Seeley Thermos
Approximate Value: $6,287.50
Quick. Let’s play a game. There’s an extremely valuable lunch box from the 1950s and it features an elephant. Name that elephant! Dumbo? Don’t be silly. Babar? Nope. It’s Toppie, the Top Value Elephant!
Toppie was a character used by Kroger’s food stores as part of their value stamp program. Collect enough stamps and you could turn them in for cool stuff, like this classic lunch box. There may only be a dozen or so of these left in the world, which is why one sold on eBay for $6,287.50 a few years ago.
Maker: Universal Studios
Approximate Value: $16,000
He’s the king of all superheroes, and this lunch box with his image is arguably the most super of all of these super lunch boxes. This Superman lunch box could be the most desired collectible lunch box out there. It has reportedly sold for as much as $16,000 in the past. You’d think if you could afford to pony up that kind of cash, you wouldn’t need to pack your own lunch.