Gotta Eat ‘Em All! Part 1: The World of Vintage Pokemon Lunch Boxes

One part of being a kid at school that many of us can relate to is what sort of lunch box we had. After all, a lunch box wasn’t just something to carry your sandwiches and crisps round in, it was a statement.

Were you a sports fan, proudly showing off your lunchbox emblazoned with your favourite team? Or did you show off your love for Star Wars with an array of boxes decorated with Jedi and Sith alike? These are just a couple of examples of the endless stream of branded lunch boxes available, but in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s a new series of lunch boxes would find their way into schools.

Pokemon lunch boxes became more and more commonplace as the franchise took the world by storm, with many of the designs used featuring human characters from the anime and Pokemon made popular by their appearances in the TV series and movies.


Prior to the 1980’s, lunch boxes had been primarily made from metal. While metal lunch boxes were (and are still) used and produced, from the 1980s onward materials such as vinyl and plastic became increasingly commonplace as more films, TV shows and toy lines were licensed to be used on such products. Brands such as Sistema Plastics and Thermos made a variety of plastic Pokemon lunch boxes featuring a number of different characters, which proved to be extremely popular.


Thermos included their signature Thermos flasks along with their range of plastic lunch boxes, which were also adorned with popular Pokemon from the anime series, such as the Sandshrew flask below:


As well as plastic lunch boxes, Thermos also produced Pokemon backpacks that included a matching flask, though if you’re a collector looking to purchase one of these backpack and flask sets for your collection it may prove to be rather difficult to find a complete set featuring a particular design, as these pre-loved backpacks often tend to be missing the flask that originally accompanied them.


The Thermos range of pokemon lunch boxes and backpacks have remained popular throughout the various eras of the franchise and they still produce Pokemon lunch boxes, which remain very popular with younger fans of the franchise eager to show off their favourite characters at school.


Although the majority of Pokemon lunch boxes have been made from either plastic or fabric, the New York-based company Accessory Network produced a variety of tin lunch boxes in the late 1990s and early 2000’s. These lunch boxes were much more reminiscent of the classic boxes of yesteryear and in a similar fashion to the lunch boxes produced by other brands, their designs were also primarily based around Pokemon which had been key characters in the anime series and movies, such as Charmander, Mew, Mewtwo, Butterfree, Squirtle, Bulbasaur and of course, Pikachu.


As previously mentioned, fabric-based Pokemon lunch bags were also a common sight in playgrounds and school dinner halls during the height of Pokemania. Another New York-based company, Fab Starpoint, began producing Pokemon lunch bags and school bags during this period and continue to produce merchandise featuring modern Pokemon today. One of the most well-known household food storage brands, Tupperware, also joined in on the Pokemon craze and teamed up with Japanese advertising agency JR Kikaku (responsible for the marketing of the Pokemon anime) and produced a variety of lunch bags. These products again featured key characters from the anime and movies, particularly those from the Orange Islands and Johto series, along with the Pokemon 2000 movie, such as the bag pictured below.


Of course, the lunch boxes and bags featured here are only a handful of those that were produced, generally speaking as a franchise Pokemon extensively merchandised so many aspects of their intellectual property it would be impossible to list everything ever produced! The vintage lunch boxes and other meal-time-related items (plates, cutlery etc.) hold a special place in many collectors’ hearts due to the nostalgia and memories associated with them, as well as their designs being quintessential to the time period in which they were produced. We will be continuing our journey through this part of the Pokemon merchandise world with part 2 of “Gotta Eat ‘Em All!”, where we will be exploring some key pieces of vintage Pokemon crockery that should definitely take us on another trip down memory lane!


Written By Emily Carney
Sources and Further Reading:

Sistema Plastics –
https://sistemaplastics.com/

Accessory Network –
https://pitchbook.com/profiles/company/13959-82#overview

Thermos –
https://www.thermos.com/

Fab Starpoint –
http://www.fabny.com/

Tupperware – https://www.tupperware.ie/index

Jr Kikaku – https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/JR_Kikaku

Quality Logo Products – History of Lunch Boxes –
https://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/promo-university/history-of-lunch-boxes.htm#:~:text=Before%20the%201980s%2C%20adults%20and,used%20to%20create%20lunch%20boxes.&text=Metal%20lunch%20boxes%20continued%20to,young%20kids%20until%20the%201980s.

Vintage Pokemon Hunter – Vintage Pokemon Mini Lunchboxes –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4yUCTCRpVo

Best Reviews.Guide – Top 10 Pokemon Lunch Boxes Of 2021 –
https://uk.bestreviews.guide/pokemon-lunch-boxes-for-boys



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