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Old Lunchbox Favorites

I just stole one of my kid's Handi-snacks, the square of cheese with the crackers. OMG! Not only did it taste wonderfully bad for me, with nothing natural in the ingredient list whatsoever, but it gave me a flood of memories of all that lunchbox food from back in the day.

I'm avoiding the requisite carrot sticks and other healthy items....

Pudding in a pop-top can
Donald duck orange juice cans
Hostess fruit pies
Twinkies, Ho-Hos
Goober-Grape sandwiches- do they still make that awesome gross swirled heaven?
Chicken in a basket crackers with the old brick Velveeta, cubed (blush from shame)

Help me remember some oldies but goodies!

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  1. My mom was a healthy and unconventional lunch-packer. I was the kid who'd come to school with a can of sardines and saltines and eat happily, or the one with liverwurst on rye or the leftover eggplant parm. Always celery/carrot sticks on the side, and an apple. Sometimes an oatmeal cookie. Thermos of whole milk, always.

    But ONCE in a while I'd get a little surprise...my beloved Ring Ding (many similar products, but I maintain the superiority of that snack) or a royal blue juice box of original Hawaiian Punch....or a little container filled with a kid size portion of Planters Cheese Balls...don't even get me started on those...
    So, my big three?
    Ring Ding
    Planters Cheese Balls
    Original Hawaiian Punch

    7 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      Planter's Cheese Balls!!!!! So good. I could eat the entire can.

      1. re: nothingswrong

        Yes. And they have all kinds of cheesy puffs/cheesy crunchies now but none are quiiiite as good.

        1. re: pinehurst

          Totally agree. The balls were the best :)

        2. re: nothingswrong

          Those were always a beach or vacation food for us. My mother would'nt pack something so blantantly junk food. But they are the most amazing thing.

        3. re: pinehurst

          You're lucky if sardines were the most unconventional lunch you'd get. My dad used to pack us halal lunches at a time when there weren't many good, child-friendly halal products commercially available so I'd open my lunch box and find he somehow tried to jam a whole tandoori chicken thigh in there. Or when they started making halal bologna, he thought the red plastic casing was meant to be eaten so he'd make us sandwiches filled with choking hazards. His tomato paste, American cheese and cut up hot dog on a pita pizza still elicits shudders.

          You can only imagine how longingly I would stare at the kids with Lunchables who got to trade their bland crackers and cheese for Mondo or fruit roll-ups.

          1. re: JungMann

            Ooh, that pizza image! You're right. The sardines were yummy, but the smell and the idea of whole-ish fish made me not a favorite dining partner.

            I'm laughing at the red plastic bologna casing. Not funny in the choking hazard sense, but still! :-)

          2. re: pinehurst

            My mom was one of those creative lunch packers too. :-) It was the early 70's and she made "wraps" for my lunch way before tortillas were mainstream...peanut butter and grape jelly or bologna and Kraft single rolled up in a tortilla. "Lunch meat" on a hot dog bun with mustard is another memory. The occasional pudding in a can or Ding Dong would occasionally show up in my lunch. So Snack Pack pudding and Ding Dongs are my lunchbox favorites. :-)

            1. re: Tara57

              Oh yes the Capri sun! I was notorious for stabbing the straw right through the back.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                I remember when Capri Sun hit the market - so much cooler than juice in a box.

            2. Vienna mash on bread – canned Vienna mashed with mayo, relish and mustard (my brother still makes this for nostalgia)
              Gushers – gummies with the sticky syrup inside
              Cheese strings (still eat it now once in awhile!)
              Bubble gum tape – waterlemon (not necessarily lunch but I used to take it to school with me!)
              Bagel and cream cheese (won’t touch that now with a 10 foot pole, ate it every day for 2 years)
              The best was the rare occasion when mom would show up with McDonalds

              4 Replies
              1. re: pumpkinspice

                I don't think there's anything better in life when you're a kid than your mother showing up with a Happy Meal at school. It somehow tasted infinitely better.

                Gushers, I LOVED Gushers.

                And the bubble gum tape! Forgot about that stuff.

                I still eat string cheese and bagels with cream cheese all the time.

                1. re: nothingswrong

                  Absolutely! Suddenly every kid was jealous of you and everyone wanted to be your best friend so they could get a fry! :)

                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    Gum tape, no. Big League Chew...oh YEAH!

                    1. re: nothingswrong

                      The strawberry and the blue gushers were the best.

                  2. They do still make Goober-Grape.

                    I loved the Kangaroo Dippers in icing. I could go for some of those right now. I also used to drink this diet chocolate cherry soda.

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: bugablue13

                        I think it was called Canifield's....but I do enjoy a diet red pop every once in awhile.

                        And I remembered those snacks were called Dunkaroos.

                      2. Hmmmm...I ate at the cafetira most of the time, but....if we had a field trip (THE NE Aquarium was the BEST!), I got Andy Capp fries, and for dessert, Chuckles candy.

                        1. I ate in the cafeteria, but there were a few times a year when the kitchen was closed for cleaning such as the day before Christmas Vacation. I would get a salami sandwich, small bag of chips, an apple, a fried apple or cherry pie, and a can of pop. I think the latter two would be frowned upon in the climate of today's schools. (This was in grade school by the way, about the fifth grade.)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: John E.

                            I wonder if kids are even allowed to have soda in schools anymore. They banned Flamin' Hot Cheetos in LA County public schools a few years back.

                            Mom packed me a salami, iceberg lettuce, dill pickle, and black olive sandwich EVERY DAY for some 5 years of elementary school. Always on a little French roll. It's the best combo ever, I still stand by that. My friends thought I was such a freak. They all had bologna, PB&J, or ham and cheese, blech.

                            1. re: nothingswrong

                              I had a brief period of addiction to those Cheetos, brief because I just had to stop buying them and in the midst read about the ban. I can see why but I think it was more for the red fingertips than health issues.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                Yes, it was because of the red fingertips. Back then I was actually working in public schools as a freelance Sex Ed teacher (long story) and the Flamin Hot Cheeto thing was INSANE. The kids walked around with bags of them at all times. Ate them all through class. Empty bags in the hallways. Bright red crumbs everywhere.

                                I kind of get it too.

                                Can't do spicy anymore but those things are amazingly addictive.

                          2. Never took a lunch box/bag for school. Do have some fond memories of cafeteria food.

                            Remember milk for snack time in kindergarten being in little GLASS bottle with paper labels/lids.

                            1. Does it have to be commercial?

                              I remember bologna on Wonder bread. Cubby temp.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                At my elementary school, someone thought it'd be a good idea to put the heating vent under the coat hooks/lunch shelf. The smell of bologna sandwich jerky and baked wool coats is still lurking in my sinus 50 years later. And thinking back, I'm so glad I hated egg salad!

                              2. We brought lunch every day, no cafeteria, and it stayed in our cubbies.
                                Lots of fruits and veggies (grew up in central cali), almost always a box of raisins, vanilla yogurt, an apple, i loved a tortilla smeared with peanut butter with a banana rolled up in it.
                                Sometimes fig newtons, graham crackers (sometimes with pb on those), string cheese, once in a while fig newtons and rarely a homemade cookie.

                                Most other kids had similar lunches, aside from the kid whose dad went hunting- the day he showed up with entire bbqd quail in a tupperware made quite the impression on my young newly vegetarian self....

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    !! How could i forget those?! Yes! The original green wrapper....

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      All the rage in college. I think they changed the formula, they just aren't the same or maybe my taste buds changed.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Ugh. My mother always tried to send those and I hated them. She got the hint but in my adulthood I kinda like them.

                                        1. re: melpy

                                          They did seem too healthy or dry or something as a kid, didn't they? As an adult, I think they're a great treat--perfectly sweet and welcomingly crunchy. It's funny how our taste buds change!

                                          1. re: melpy

                                            You forgot to crumble the bar into your yogurt. Better than the sum of their parts.....or whatever the saying is.

                                        2. My mom bless her heart. Peanut butter and jelly,it's been forty years since Iv'e eaten one. Ruined for life. I loved her chicken sandwiches,with the little bag of chips,and the homemade cookies.Or the occasional Ho HO,or Ding Dong.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: emglow101

                                            I loved ding dongs and hostess blackberry fruit pies.

                                          2. Sandwiches made with meat from those cans with the devils on them.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: JudiAU

                                              Sometimes I just have to. Preferably chicken.

                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                I tried the ham a few years back. All I can say is....salty.

                                            2. My mom stopped making so many baked goods in the 60's. So, I always had archway cookies in my lunch box. Chocolate chip, molasses, iced oatmeal and the ones that were shaped like a windmill.
                                              I had to beg for chocolate milk though. Not sure why she thought that was not healthy enough...Cripes, she was poisoning me with all the other processed treats ;)

                                              1. Lunch boxes seemed to disintegrate by half way through the first semester, after that it was brown bag. Some kids ate in the cafeteria - they felt sorry for us, we felt sorry for them. Those of us who brought home lunch kept them in our cubbies in elementary school, in our lockers in Jr. & Sr. High. Thermoses for our drinks usually didn't last long either, so whatever we drank (milk or juice most often) was from a carton at room temperature. I don't remember anyone having soda/pop/etc.

                                                Lunch was invariably a sandwich of some type. Usually cold cuts or peanut butter (the sandwich wrapped in wax paper.) Often a bag of chips - either a small pre packaged bag or a wax paper bag with chips out of the larger bag at home. On rare occasions it might be one of those cheese and cracker packs the OP mentioned, but those were expensive and didn't show up often. Then there would be a wax bag with either carrots or grapes, or -ugh- celery. Sometimes it was a banana, apple, or orange, maybe a little box of raisins. And usually there was a candy bar for dessert. Butterfinger, Snickers, Milky Way, almond joy or mounds, or maybe a bag of M&M's. Later on it might be a snack cake like a ding dong, ho-ho, twinkie, or snowball (only one, the other would be in my brother's lunch.) I'm sure dessert must have been cookies sometimes, but I don't remember them specifically.

                                                And mom was pretty clear - she made those lunches for us, not for us to share or to trade. She made it, we ate it. There really wasn't much to trade for anyhow. We all had the same kind of lunches. I don't remember anyone ever bringing sushi or fried chicken or leftover spaghetti. The bread was almost always white supermarket sandwich bread, and the variations slim. Ham, Turkey, Bologna, maybe Salami - but I don't remember anyone having it. By far the most common would have been Peanut Butter and Jelly. I don't know what would have happened if someone had a peanut allergy back then.

                                                And to give a time frame I guess I started kindergarten in '62 and graduated high school in '75.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                  My mom would pack a frozen box of apple juice in my lunch (haven't touched the stuff since!) and by lunch it was still semi-slushy if i was lucky. Other half of the time it was a frozen water bottle.

                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                    Agree, under no circumstances were we to be trading or sharing. I was petrified she was going to find out if someone gave me a little taste of something.

                                                    Spent my childhood living in fear.

                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                      One of my best friends' parents always packed her these carob chip flax cookies. And this was back in the late 80s/early 90s before lots of people were doing such things.

                                                      The poor girl spent EVERY SINGLE day at lunch trying to trade her "cookies" for our Oreos or Fruit Roll Ups. I remember she even would say "But mine have real chocolate!"

                                                      I took the bait one time, and one time only. I distinctly remember those cookies were like eating sand and I spit them out and demanded my Fruit Roll Up back. We ended up getting in a fight and sent to the principal's office.

                                                  2. Little Debbies! My parents never bought them, so I had no idea they existed until around 6th grade. I think after that I used to sneak them into the cart when I went grocery shopping with my mother.

                                                    1. I didn't like sandwiches so lunch was always a warm thermos of leftovers usually but often a hot dog. I always had a Baggie of some fruit and veggie and peanut butter crackers for snack.

                                                      In high school when I fought against a home prepared lunch I bought lunch everyday. I remember loving the food but now I don't think I'd even sniff that food. All time favorite were the super hot and crispy fries on Tuesdays and Thursdays which were always perfect because I had the first lunch shift. Other favorites included the chicken fries (not sure how much chicken was in there), mashed potatoes and weird cream-colored gravy, chicken fried steak with same gravy and mystery mushy green beans.

                                                      1. I never took lunch to school. In elementary school we had no cafeteria and were given 90 minutes to walk home, have lunch and walk back.
                                                        Junior high school had a cafeteria with amazing Polish and Italian immigrant cooks. Everything made from scratch and delicious.
                                                        It wasn't safe to enter the high school cafeteria.....Inner city school, late 60s, race riots, Black Panther Trial going on just down the street, so as soon as morning classes were over one ran to the car and got away from the school fast.

                                                        My lunchbox experiences were going to day camp from age 6-10. This was before all those nice little freezer packs they have now, so lunches had to be able to last without refrigeration.
                                                        The thermos would be filled with Hi-C, by the 2nd week the glass insert would have broken, so mom would freeze cans of soda to pack. They'd have a bulge and I had to use my boy scot knife to open the pre-pop top cans.
                                                        The sanwich couldn't have mayo, and meats were always the preserved/pickled variety: salami, pastrami, rolled beef, pickled tongue. No turkey, or roast beef. If lunch was to be dairy, it would be a hunk of hard cheese and some imitation Ritz crackers (Ritz weren't kosher) A piece of fresh fruit (apple or tangerine) was usually included to eat on the bus ride home. A 5 cent bag of potato chips or popcorn was the included dessert.

                                                        1. My mom tried to keep it halfway healthy so Juicy Juice for me. I liked the fruit punch flavor the best. My favorite sandwich was pastrami, and my least favorite was bologna. Handy snacks, and usually a sliced up apple (browned but still good, my mom was a good apple slicer upper). Boxes of Sun-Maid raisins (which was based about 20 minutes from my hometown).

                                                          I don't recall what we had for sweet snacks... my mom didn't buy stuff like Twinkies (in fact I've never had one) or fruit pies. We would get ho-hos as a special treat every once in awhile but not in lunches. Maybe we had teddy grahams?

                                                          I associate Capri Sun and Sunny Delight for a post-soccer game drink that one of the parents would bring.

                                                          And, I have a box of handy snacks in my pantry, SO bought them for hunting and only ate a few of them. I will have to have one to see if it still tastes the same.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                                            I always though Juicy Juice was cool, as it came ina can. Ah....the wonders of being8 years old.

                                                            I liked the one that came ina yellow container.

                                                            1. re: Westy

                                                              The had juice boxes of it as we got older. My mom would send juicy juice often because it was one of the only 100% drink

                                                            2. re: juliejulez

                                                              Handi-Snacks definitely taste the same! I have a thing for them and eat them as a snack. Also the Mr. Pretzel ones or whatever they're called. Same foul neon "cheese" but with pretzel sticks for dipping.

                                                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                I always like the cracker Handi-Snacks with the litte red spreader way better than the breadstick ones. They were a staple!

                                                            3. I mentioned upthread that the only time I took a lunch to school was when the cafeteria was closed the day before there was a school break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas Vacation, Easter Vacation, the last day of school.

                                                              That was in grade school. In junior high, I ate the hot school lunch for about two weeks and then stopped. I did not like about half the food, plus my school did not have a cafeteria, so we had to walk to the elementary school about four blocks away (think of that at -5°).

                                                              Instead of hot lunch or a sack lunch I ate at the school consession stand. Other than milk, I don't remember any healty food. Everyday I ate Suzi-Qs, Ho-Hos, fruit pies, bags of chips, ice cream sandwiches, etc. for lunch.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                Oh yes, Jr High is when my junk food habits started... Little Debbie Honey Buns, hot pockets, beef sticks, all from the school concession stands.

                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                  It was high school for me. I was a junk food nut and probably had a 6 piece McNugget meal at least 5 times a week...shhh don't tell my parents.

                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                    I won't tell on you, if you don't tell my mom that in high school, my preferred lunch was a hostess fruit pie and a bag of taco flavored Doritos or crunchy Cheetos, washed down with soda pop. Candy for dessert.

                                                                    I have no idea how I didn't get fat or die of vitamin deficiency ;)

                                                                    1. re: sedimental

                                                                      Seriously, me too. Actually I got fat after high school when I stopped playing sports but didn't change my eating habits!

                                                                  2. re: juliejulez

                                                                    When I got to high school, the administration apparently decided the junk food had to go. There was still a concession stand but they sold fruit, peanuts, granola, and curiously, a frozen yogurt soft serve machine. I think back then they thought that since it was yogurt, it was healthful. The pop machines were also sbut down, but only at lunchtime. We would frequently go to DQ for chili dogs, or Hardees for roast beef sandwiches or McDonalds for burgers and fries. When I was a senior, I remember going home and eating big lunches to gain weight because I was on the offensive line in football, and then wrestling heavyweight the first six weeks of the season. Then I had to lose 20 pounds to make weight for the rest of the season and for tornaments. The funny thing is I got up to only 205# and then down to 185#. i have three nephews who played high school football at 265 to 275 and two of them played college football at 300#. now that they're done playing, I wish they would drop more of the extra weight.

                                                                2. We almost always had sandwiches. PB&J, Fluffernutter, ham & cheese or whatever leftover meat from the night before like roast beef, roast chicken or meat loaf.

                                                                  Always a sweet treat. Pudding, yes in the pop top can with sharp edges, we never died! Ring Dings wrapped in foil, the way they should be! Or mom often baked so homemade cookies. I don't think she ever bothered with healthy stuff because we wouldn't eat it.

                                                                  1. My Grandmothers homemade graham crackers and a farm fresh apple. Then peanut butter entered the scene and it was love at first spoon. I ate PB, then PB & honey, then PB and jam everyday for 15 years with breaks for the occasional cold. No lunchbox, brown bag. Milk supplied by school.

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      No lunch box? Not even in grammar school? You didn't have the benefit of The Archies, Roy Rogers, Scooby Doo, Star Trek, Kiss or my personal favorite Charlies Angels?

                                                                        1. re: pinehurst


                                                                          Ha. Adam-12 baybee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                            Hot Wheels FTW.
                                                                            Thermos still in tact.Yes. More moves and cities than I can count it always came along.


                                                                            I used to trade sandwiches in HS with a buddy that his mom made fried SPAM sandwiches with mayo for his Dad's lunch Daily. God they were yummy.

                                                                            Spaghetti and meatballs from younger days and grade school still are a fave.

                                                                          2. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                            Remember those 20 piece red Tupperware ones? I used to have an anxiety attack trying to get all the pieces back in so I could snap the top.

                                                                            1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                              My sister had a Beatles lunchbox for a few years. But no I never used one.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                To frame this, I biked to school. By the time my sibs came along they took the local school bus. When you bike to school, you learn to travel light. I could stuff that brown bag between my body and my coat in winter and in the small basket in good weather.

                                                                                I also biked to my first p/t job and did the very same thing. Early 60's.

                                                                              2. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                I'm pretty sure I had Happy Days and Star Wars lunch boxes. I wish I had saved them so I could sell them on eBay.

                                                                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                  I was much younger, I had the plastic square box with the little handle for at least 3 years until the soft ones became popular.

                                                                                  Light blue My Little Pony
                                                                                  Red 101 dalmations
                                                                                  Purple Beauty and the Beast

                                                                                  Brown sack in high school. You weren't cool if you had a lunch bag. Now I feel guilty about my carbon footprint.

                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                    I can picture those specific lunch boxes, melpy!

                                                                                    I had a hot pink Barbie one, and a magenta/purple Jem and the Rockettes one (for variety, duh).

                                                                                    So funny about the brown sack thing in high school. I always had perishables for lunch so my mom would pack them with ice packs in an insulated fabric-covered lunch box and I was mortified bringing that thing to school. It was sooo uncool. And it was huge! I'd run straight to my locker and shove it in there before anyone saw me carrying it around. After all, I was too cool for a backpack or to bring my textbooks to class. Couldn't be seen with a lunch pail.

                                                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                      I had a Bobby Sherman lunchbox (my mom thought it was cool LOL) and a Kellogg's lunchbox with all the 70's era characters...Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger, Snap Crackle and Pop, etc...but my favorite was the black metal lunch pail (think "construction worker" style) that Mom painted with flowers, vines and smiley faces. I wish I still had it because my mom was so creative and cared enough to make a utilitarian object into something special for me. :-)

                                                                              3. My favorite in elementary school was cream cheese on
                                                                                date nut bread but it was considered a treat so I didn't get
                                                                                it very often.

                                                                                1. Potato chips to put on my ham and cheese loaf sandwiches. Yum.

                                                                                  1. Sandwich was always salami/lettuce/pickles/olives on a French roll.

                                                                                    Or a plain bagel with cream cheese (eaten cold).

                                                                                    Always a piece of fruit (apple, banana, tangerine, grapes) and a bag of baby carrots. I HATED carrots as a kid and threw them away on a daily basis. Sometimes I'd sit at recess and carve them into little people with my teeth, but I'd spit out any pieces that got in my mouth. This was one of many habits I had as a child which alarmed the school admins.

                                                                                    Snacks: A bag of chips (Cool Ranch Doritos, Cheetos, or a chip they no longer have called Sabrositos I think. They were bright red Fritos, very spicy, and I LOVED them).

                                                                                    Cookies (Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Dunkaroos, those Keebler cookies with 3 M&Ms on them, Fudge Stripes, the pink-and-white coated animal crackers with nonpareils).

                                                                                    Or Kudos bars! Does anyone remember those? They still make them. Chocolate-covered granola bars.

                                                                                    Or Nature Valley granola bars, or Quaker Chewy Oatmeal bars (I even liked the raisin ones). PB and chocolate were the best though, or cookies and cream.

                                                                                    String cheese or one of those little round cheeses wrapped in red wax.

                                                                                    Capri Sun, Juicy Juice, the Ghostbuster squeeze juice, or Hi-C juice boxes.

                                                                                    God I hate baby carrots.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                      Oh I remembered more.

                                                                                      Jello! Hated that crap.

                                                                                      Loved Jello pudding though. Mom always bought the chocolate-vanilla swirled one.

                                                                                      Oh! Or that yogurt with the sprinkles in the cap. Strawberry yogurt with rainbow sprinkles. So gross but I loved it.

                                                                                      She also packed pretzels on the regular. Always Snyder's of Hanover. I loved the giant ones, they were bigger than my hands, and I'd break them into pieces and suck on them until the insides turned mushy in my mouth.

                                                                                      I had a voracious appetite as a child.

                                                                                      Those Pizza Lunchables were ungodly but made me feel cool. Regular Lunchables I hated but would beg mom to buy. She always said they were too expensive.

                                                                                      Fruit by the Foot was the best candy to have in your lunch box.

                                                                                      Come high school, I had a tab open at the Snack Bar. I had detention almost every morning before school, where I was forced to "bake" our school's famously delicious chocolate chip cookies (i.e. take them out of a gigantic box from the freezer, stick them on cookie sheets, and bake). I'd eat 4-5 of them for breakfast with a Cherry Pepsi. Mmm, to have a teenage stomach again...

                                                                                      1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                        Arrgg Lunchables. My mom was a great cook but for some reason in middle school the homecooked lunches disappeared for Lunchables. It was probably my insistence. I remember loving the nacho variety which thinking back on it is so far from how I eat now it's hilarious.

                                                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                          I ate lunchables for an afternoon snack when I had track meets.

                                                                                      2. A nickel for a carton of white milk, only when the glass thermos broke. Chocolate milk was a dime, which we never ever were allowed.

                                                                                        1. My lunches always changed depending on what I was in the mood for and what was the "hip" new lunchbox item for that time. I was pretty spoiled and my mother obliged to many of my requests. I think I would normally have a sandwich. Usually PB&J or turkey and cheese. Some novelty things that I remember having that I probably wouldn't buy now as an adult, are the handi-snaks as you mentioned, dunk-a-roos (kind of the cookie version of handi-snacks), jello pudding cups, and of course lunchables. I remember being particularly fond of the pizza ones. I almost always had a juice box in my lunch, but the brand would vary, Sometimes Hi-C, sometimes Juicy Juice, sometimes Capri Sun. One brand of juice box that I remember having, but that I don't hear about anymore is I believe called Sipps? Anyone remember this? I might be totally fudging the name, but that's what I think it was. I have to believe that shit was on a sale a lot because it wasn't my favorite. Ohh, and fruit snacks!! Different kinds, but gushers stick out in memory for some reason. I also really liked string cheese (it was always Polly-O brand back then) and of course chips and pringles. I just saw from nothingswrong's post kudos bars!! Yes I remember those an and I loved them! I also just remembered the Kool aid portable juices. They weren't in juice boxes though, but rather skinny plastic bottles? Anyone remember?

                                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                            I totally remember Sipps. They had an iced tea I liked. Were the Kool Aids the ones you squeezed to drink?

                                                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                              Yes, the ones you squeezed. I'm not sure I ever had the iced tea flavor of Sipps. I remember a mixed berry flavor, I think. Like I said, it wasn't my favorite, but that might have something to do with the fact that I vividly remember getting sick at school one time in first grade and that was the last thing I had to drink before.

                                                                                              Not something you'd put in your lunch, but does anyone remember the Flinstones push up pops? I don't think they make those anymore, either.

                                                                                              1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                So apparently these are called Squeezits and they were made by Betty Crocker, not Kool-Aid. Unless Kool-Aid also had a version.

                                                                                            2. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                              I just remembered those little barrels! Hugs maybe? They were crappy Kool Aid wannabes with that foil cap. They were so cute!

                                                                                              1. re: bugablue13

                                                                                                That's different that what I'm talking about, but I do remember those, as well. The ones I'm talking about we're Kool-Aid brand I think, they were really thin plastic that you squeeze and were tall. They had a little plastic tab at the top that you twisted to break off and open them.

                                                                                                1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                  I remember them. They were similar in shape to a coke bottle only plastic.

                                                                                                    1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                      I sware I could drink the whole six pack.

                                                                                                      1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                        Oh, I'm sure I could've too back then.

                                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                                      I think I mentioned it here somewhere. I found out that were called Squeeze-its and were made by Betty Crocker.

                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                        Those are the ones I am talking about. Kool Aid bursts tropical punch flavor.

                                                                                                  1. Ham and mustard sandwiches that often went uneaten. Yuck. Pickles. Carrot sticks. Capri Sun. Pepperoni with crackers. Chocolate milk if at all possible. A significant portion of my caloric intake probably came from chocolate milk, grilled cheese (Kraft singles) sandwiches, carrots and pickles.

                                                                                                    Very rarely a fluffer nutter sandwich. Another rarity that I probably had to make myself - graham cracker sandwiches with canned chocolate frosting. Good right away, but even better when the frosting had softened the graham crackers by lunchtime. I got that idea from one of my friends whose mom always had this amazing display of homemade sweets at her house after school - brownies, popcorn balls, cookies, punch. Weird that they were such a skinny family.

                                                                                                    Cafeteria was an option in elementary - spongy squares of pizza and some sort of bean tostada come to mind. Always tinged with a certain cafeteria smell.

                                                                                                    Don't think I ate at the cafeteria once in jr. high or high school. Only an occasional Big Stick from the snack shack.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: emily

                                                                                                      Grilled cheese with Kraft singles=best afterschool snack.

                                                                                                    2. Went to school in Southeast Texas in the 50's and didn't take a bagged lunch until high school...then it was tuna fish salad every day for three years. Don't know why I didn't die from the mayo used in it, as well as slathered on the Mrs. Baird's white bread. Rarely was the temp under 40 and mostly it was over 90. Maybe mayo was safer then!! Tuna salad, bag of potato chips and a Snickers bar EVERY DAY. I should tell you that I made my own lunch, so can't blame Mom. Oh, and I still love tuna salad.

                                                                                                      1. PB&J on Pepperidge Farm white bread - the rough kind, not squishy like Wonderbread like all my friends had. Mom was a little heavy-handed with the jelly and it squished through the bread. I ate this almost every day through middle school - the occasional exception was turkey roll with margarine on white bread. (I don't like mayo or mustard, and had to negotiate for margarine - not sure why I needed a condiment!)

                                                                                                        In high school, I switched to private school where most kids bought lunch and I stopped brown-bagging it. I ate tater tots when they had them, and Twix when they didn't. :o

                                                                                                        1. Laughing about my BFF in 7th grade who had two tuna fish sandwiches made with Miracle Whip on white bread wrapped in wax paper every day of her life. She hated that stuff. I loved it. So I ate her sandwiches ( one before school as we walked together and one during morning recess) and then I shared my hot school lunch with Ava every day:) I did feel greedy and guilty though (only sometimes) and every so often when I scavenged all my dad's loose change out of his recliner I would treat her to her own lunch tray:)

                                                                                                          1. Never forgotten the time that my grandma made me polenta with chopped-up hotdogs... I don't know what it was, but at the time I felt that it was insanely good Italian-WASP fusion food (butI was seven at the time, so I might not have chose to phrase it in that way).

                                                                                                            1. my mom made me liverwurst on white bread, sometimes with French's mustard - my favorite. no one ever wanted any of that lunch. sometimes accompanied by a thermos of Lipton's instant chicken noodle soup.

                                                                                                              oscar meyers' bologna with mayo also on white bread, usually with a slice of american cheese.

                                                                                                              i found my Cuban friend Magda's cream cheese and strawberry jelly on white bread very exotic.

                                                                                                              sandwiches were always accompanied by a bag of laura scudders chips. plain or bbq. they were the small bags, that came in the long cardboard box of assorted bags of chips.

                                                                                                              i don't remember apples, maybe bananas... but my mom used to tell me that when i was like in 3rd grade i came home and told her the teacher had told us we should pack healthier lunches and i proceeded to put a piece of lettuce into my lunch box. i remember i had a black shiny vinyl Barbie lunch box, and and a metal one of the Archies.

                                                                                                              jr. high was cafeteria, all the way.

                                                                                                              high school i bought and ate a bag of bbq chips, a little packaged brownie with nuts (which i usually picked off), and a fountain Coke. every day, all through high school, unless we left campus and got McDonald's or Foster's Freeze.

                                                                                                              1. Drake's Crème Cups (which, sadly are no longer around)--the most beautiful upside-down cupcake which came in vanilla with fake chocolate frosting and chocolate with fake chocolate frosting.
                                                                                                                Yodels (NOT Little Debbies)
                                                                                                                Linden's chocolate chip cookies
                                                                                                                Ring Dings.

                                                                                                                1. This was about 50 years ago, but...

                                                                                                                  Fish sticks (3 or 4), along with a small foil-bowl chicken pot pie, revived from the freezer about five or six hours before lunch, served with an apple for "dessert."

                                                                                                                  1. Interesting....in my day (I'm in my 60's), I don't think there *were* many individually-packaged lunchbox snacks other than the tiny boxes of raisins. There might have been cellophane packs with a couple of cookies, and there were the D-shaped Hostess fruit pies, Ring-Dings, Twinkies, etc.

                                                                                                                    But no crunchy stuff in snack packs that I can recall. Certainly no juice-boxes or Lunchables, and no mother would have considered buying the likes of Uncrustables.

                                                                                                                    The only beverage choice was plain milk. We certainly had far less sugar on a daily basis than is common today.

                                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                      There was a lot more sugar in cereal back in the day.

                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                        Most of us did not have mothers who purchased that type of cereal....ever. My late mother fed us oatmeal.....cream of wheat and corn meal mush as cereal with a dot of butter...a dot of brown sugar or chopped fruit and milk on top.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                          my mom sure did! we ate them all - Kix, Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Count Chocula, etc. i think as immigrants my parents weren't knowledgeable about nutrition and the newness and variety of all the pre-packaged, frozen, and canned foods available blew them away. In their country every meal was a home-cooked affair, and the ease of preparation really appealed to them. they just didn't know any better.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                            LOL me too! My grandparents were from Sicily and the refrigerator still impressed them. We ate all those cereals too. Except when they got low they would mix them all together into one box of mutant sugar cereal. Used to gross me out.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                              I think with my mom it was more she felt the expense of feeding that to four hungry brats was way too much. We could have blown through several boxes at one sitting...easily.
                                                                                                                              AND take note of what I wrote about on the secret pleasure thread as my guilty food pleasure: Chocolate Chex.....Froot Loops.....Cocoa Puffs.Go figure:):):) Gosh don't even get me started on my lust for kids candy:(

                                                                                                                            2. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                              We were allowed the sugar cereals quite often, but it did not last too long. We always had cereals such as Cheerios, Rice Crispies, Grape Nuts, and Corn Flakes on hand. And we always put sugar on them.

                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                The cereal makers began reducing the amount of sugar in thier sweetened cereals several years ago. I tried to do a search and found a lot of stories, but no single site that explains it in general terms. Let's just say the Sugar Pops of your youth had a lot more sugar in them than the Corn Pops sold today.

                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                  Hmm, that's shocking. I never ate any cereal other than rice krispies but you'd think it'd be the other direction

                                                                                                                            3. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                              Ah, the little red boxes of raisins. At my elementary school, one smart-alek kid found out that you could wrap your empty mouth around the open end of the box, and make great noise by blowing air forcefully into the box which had the other end closed. Our hyper-vigilant principal responded by trying to ban them from lunch boxes, but was totally defeated by huge groups of mothers.

                                                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                You don't recall the 10-cent packs of fritos or potato chips--or those Old London wafer with some sort of cheddar cheese product in the middle?

                                                                                                                              2. My lunch box favorites.

                                                                                                                                Tuna and Provolone sandwich or tuna with crackers
                                                                                                                                Broccoli and cheese soup
                                                                                                                                M&M Snack Mix
                                                                                                                                Little Debbies - Starcrunch, Swiss cake rolls, zebra cakes and Oatmeal cookie sandwiches
                                                                                                                                Rice pudding cups
                                                                                                                                grape tomatoes, cubes of cheese
                                                                                                                                Teddy Grahams
                                                                                                                                rice krispy treats.

                                                                                                                                1. Bologna and cheese on white bread
                                                                                                                                  Nabisco Vegetable Thins (yeah Mom, the carrot-shaped ones are really healthy)
                                                                                                                                  Hostess Snoballs - while still in the package they kind of felt like... trouble
                                                                                                                                  Hi-C - what's a juice box? This was stored in my Evel Knievel lunch box thermos
                                                                                                                                  Ritz Handi-Snax cheese dip and crackers with the rectangular red plastic spreader
                                                                                                                                  One nickel and 3 pennies for a carton of chocolate milk
                                                                                                                                  Triangular folded napkin

                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: CDouglas

                                                                                                                                    Pink Hostess Snoballs:) Heaven on earth!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                      My almost 84 year old aunt was in assisted living and she had zero appetite. Whenever I visted her, about once a week (her children lived farther away than I did) I would bring her either the pink or white Hostess Snowballs, one of her favorites. Her other favorite was a Salted Nut Roll, a candy bar made in St. Paul, similar to Hershey's Payday candy bar.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                          I knew that when my mother was in the nursing home (she was only there for three months) and she would not eat her favorite Baby Ruth candy bar, the end was near. She has been gone for almost six years. I no longer tear up when thinking about her, but I miss her everyday. I mostly am sad my children did not get to know her before she had dementia. The bonus was that she did get an even better sense of humor with the dementia. Our children were quite amused when she called me a 'doofus'.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                            Oh that is so sweet John. I posted this to Roxlet yesterday and now to you : Sons Rule!!!!!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                          Just looking at that photo makes me want one actually. I will be picking up a package next time I'm out.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                            Zingers are decadent and Hostess Suzy Q's got me through many a failed romance at age 13:)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                              Zingers are actually kind of a novel idea for a prepackaged shelf-stable sweet. I'm determined to make a homemade one. I'm thinking a yellow sponge cake, some kind of thickened whipped cream in the center, pureed sweetened reduced raspberry sauce for the outside and the coconut. Seems doable, and will give me a little project!!

                                                                                                                                              That made me go "aww" about the teenage heartache. Poor Mama!

                                                                                                                                              I don't think I've ever had a Suzy Q. I was hooked on mini Hostess donuts from the first time I saw them and rarely gambled on something new when we were allowed to pick out a treat at 7-11. It was always the donuts or Zingers for me :)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                It isn't until just reading your idea about a homemade Zinger that I realized they were raspberry and not cinnamon flavored. At almost 25 years old, I never tried one for that very reason

                                                                                                                                      1. re: CDouglas

                                                                                                                                        i love the triangular folded napkin. mama wanted it to be nice.

                                                                                                                                      2. As a little kid, i usually walked home for lunch, and me and my two sisters and brother would forage in the supplies laid on by Mom, who was at work. Usually we made peanut butter or bologna (or both!) sandwiches, and heated up canned or leftover soup. Sometimes I fried eggs when the end of the month was near. One memorable semester, Mom bought a couple cases of an unknown brand of unusually spicy canned spaghetti and tomato sauce - we loved it, and I credit that for my foodie-ness. It was so shocking, but also delicious.

                                                                                                                                        Then we moved out to the country, had to stay at school for lunch. After teenaged anorexia set in (it was the 80s, you could not be too thin) I had a can of diet coke for lunch every single day from 7th thru 12th grade. I don't drink much soda anymore, but I still love diet coke. Funny, my sister did the same thing, except with Tab, which is an abomination in the eyes of god and man :)

                                                                                                                                        1. Lunchbox era for me was from 1959 until 1963 at school and day camp. Favorites were:
                                                                                                                                          Tuna salad on white
                                                                                                                                          Egg salad on white
                                                                                                                                          (Don't laugh) Salami, tomato and mayo on white
                                                                                                                                          Potato sticks
                                                                                                                                          Hard boiled egg
                                                                                                                                          TastyKake Krimpets, TandyTakes, peach pie,Coconut Junior or Koffee Kakes ( you have to be from Philly to understand - and when they were 10 cents for cakes or 12 cents for the pies.)

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                            Yes! Potato sticks! Were they these? I still buy a tub of these every now and then. They're really good with a sammich at lunch time.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                              The brand is not familiar, at least in the Philly area. I think ours were French's or Olde London. I do remember finding them in my lunchbox twist-tied in Baggies or Glad Bags and always scarfing them first.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                              Same lunchbox era. Same sandwiches along with PB&J and Bologna. However we called the potatoes "Shoestring Potatoes". There was also the Twinkies, Sno Balls, Tiger tails, Hostess chocolate cup cake, bag of chips, cheese balls, cheese puffs, frito's and animal crackers along with a piece of fruit. Sometimes we did get the thermos of soup (usually Campbell's chicken noodle or vegetable beef).

                                                                                                                                            3. I was a weird kid. I overheard a doctor tell my mom when I was tiny that I had a 'slight peanut allergy' and decided I could never have pb again. To this day, even the smell of peanut butter usually makes me sick, although I doubt I'm actually allergic. Anyway, my average lunches were-
                                                                                                                                              A grape jelly on white bread sandwich.
                                                                                                                                              Ketchup sandwich with white bread. (Only ketchup and bread.)
                                                                                                                                              Cherry tomatoes or cucumbers with ranch
                                                                                                                                              Dunkaroos, which were basically cookies with frosting for dipping.
                                                                                                                                              And I believe Coke.
                                                                                                                                              I grew up in a very small town with a very low median income. Processed foods were all we knew.
                                                                                                                                              I actually didn't realize I preferred white milk over chocolate milk until I was in high school. I think mom always gave me chocolate milk because she assumed I wouldn't drink it otherwise. I still don't drink chocolate milk.