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Friday
Oct052007

Space Age Lunch Boxes (1950s and 60s)

The Smithsonian has an online exhibit which includes these lunch boxes from the late 1950s and early 1960s. The satellite lunch box from 1958 shows a torodial space station, which is featured prominently in the short film Challenge of Outer Space. Excerpts from the Smithsonian website appear below each picture.

Satellite Lunch Box (1958)

The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite in late 1957 sparked interest in the United States in science education even among elementary school children. In 1958, King Seeley Thermos produced this imaginative box evoking space travel and landings on distant moons and planets. Children provided a receptive audience to this imaginary yet hopeful view of scientific achievement in the early years of the space race. This is one of the few pop culture lunch boxes from the late 1950s not designed around a television show.

Jetsons Lunch Box (1963)
Aladdin Industries profited from the success of The Jetsons television cartoon series in the fall of 1963 by introducing a domed lunch box featuring that space-traveling suburban family and their robotic maid. American notions of family life in the 1960s traveled effortlessly outward to interplanetary space on this fanciful box.

Domed metal lunch boxes traditionally were carried by factory employees and construction workers, but Aladdin and other makers found the curved shape made an excellent young person's landscape, ocean scene, or starry sky. Despite the more earth-bound adult concerns of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and the Kennedy assassination, The Jetsons box and bottle showcase the metal lunch box at the zenith of its design life and its popularity among school children.


(Found in yesterday's USA Today)

See also:
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)
The Complete Book of Space Travel (1956)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Man and the Moon (1955)

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Reader Comments (5)

I had a Star Trek lunch box back in the late 1960's.

October 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMark Plus

I remember the Jetsons..they still have that on Boomerang.

October 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJelly Muffins

Another kid in my class had that spaceflight lunchbox. I've never entirely gotten over my envy.

Speaking of which, http://www.space.com/php/multimedia/imagedisplay/img_display.php?pic=v_sts114_robinson_lunch_02.jpg&cap=STS-114+mission+specialist+Stephen+Robinson+is+handed+his+Space+Cadet+lunchbox%2C+where+he+keeps+his+spacewalking+supplies%2C+during+an+EVA+training+session.+Credit%3A+%3Ca+href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fwww.collectspace.com%22%3EcollectSPACE.com%3C%2Fa%3E.+Click+to+enlarge." REL="nofollow"> here's a photo
of astronaut Stephen Robinson with his Tom Corbett, Space Cadet lunchbox.

I suspect this is not an original 1950s lunchbox, but a copy marketed in the 1990s, as I have an identical one. Still a neat thing to have.

The rocketship on the thermos is from a serious design for a nuclear-powered spaceship made by one of the former German V-2 rocketeers who came to America in 1945.

Of course it never got further than the thermos.

As for the flying saucer, well, that's what they thought rockets would turn into in the 1950s.

Anyone remember a Land of the Giants lunch box from circa 1970 that had the Spindrift crew being threatened by a giant cobra? I dom, but it wasn't mine, and I dread to think what became of it.

January 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The rocketship on the thermos is from a serious design for a nuclear-powered spaceship made by one of the former German V-2 rocketeers who came to America in 1945.

Of course it never got further than the thermos.

As for the flying saucer, well, that's what they thought rockets would turn into in the 1950s.

Anyone remember a Land of the Giants lunch box from circa 1970 that had the Spindrift crew being threatened by a giant cobra? I dom, but it wasn't mine, and I dread to think what became of it.

January 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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