Friday 2 September 2016

To Lunch or Not To Lunch

Summer’s almost over and school is starting for another year!  One of the hardest parts of getting back into the school routine is trying to figure out what to have for lunch each day.  Today there are lots of choices – schools have hot lunch programs, cafeterias, some are located in areas where students can go buy their lunch at a restaurant, and of course, you can always bring your own.

That’s what made me marvel at the little lunch pail currently on display in our jail.  It’s really small, measuring just 7.8cm (3”) high and 15.5cm (6”) long.  In fact, in the picture below you can see a ball point pen at the bottom of it.  That gives you an idea of just how small this lunch pail is. 

This metal pail is from around the 1880s and belonged to a student called Evelyn.  Lunch was usually home made bread with home-made butter, or home-made jelly or jam.  It was a real treat if students had peanut butter!  It wasn’t often students had meat in their sandwiches; many parents could not afford to buy lunch meats like we eat today.  Some memories of school day lunches include fried-egg sandwiches, mustard sandwiches, mashed potato sandwiches, and lettuce sandwiches.

Lunch pails have evolved to lunchboxes over the years with many different designs and colours.  As a kid, we weren’t allowed to have a new lunchbox every year so I can remember being very excited when the old one wore out and I was allowed to choose a new one!  My favourite had horses – kind of like the one below.

I wonder what today’s students would think if they could only eat what could fit inside this little pail? What was your favourite lunchbox?


  1. I have to ask my sisters, but the four of us shared one lunch pail at Princess Elizabeth School lunch room in Saint John. I do remember that it was touchy sharing one bottle of milk. I know Dad had a black police lunch box. I am wondering just how my mother managed these lunches in the 1950's as funds were scarce back then on a Police Dept. salary. I wish I had asked more questions about that, now that this lunch box has brought back memories. Thanks for the memories!

  2. Great memory - thank-you for sharing!

  3. Memories (or lack of, perhaps)! Our lunches seem meager by today's standards. Bread was the staple, and sometimes we would have it with butter and molasses or on occasion jam. I think I was prior to what we know as peanut butter. Likely a molasses or sugar cookie, date or raisin quick bread. No fresh vegetable except when apples where available. I don't remember a specific drink, but no doubt it was milk, although I know it wasn't in a thermos. Now you have me thinking. Thanks for making your blog available to us, and the opportunity to comment.