Collecting Lunchboxes

When you put The Lunch Box Museum into Google, the Atlas Obscura review of it pops up.   This surprised me.  This is an unusual stop but does not qualify as a so-called “weird attraction”.  It’s more of an unusual obsession.  The first shock in Atlas Obscura’s review of the Lunch Box Museum, which visitors pay to see, is the fact that lunchboxes were once illegal.  This changed when Disney started licensing its characters to lunchbox makers.  It seems as if every TV show from the 1950s onward that lasted more than one season resulted in a lunchbox with distinctive character designs.

You might expect Disney characters to be the most collectible among lunchbox fans, but that would not be the case.  Toppie the elephant is.  According to The Lunch Box Museum’s staff, Toppie is the most valuable lunch box image.   Kroger food stores introduced Toppie to the world in the 1950s as part of a rewards-stamps come-on.   Now Toppie’s appearance on a lunch box, if authentic, can cost you more than $6,000.  Toppie appeared on other collectible items too.  The Lunch Box Museum has some viewable examples.

One on-line reviewer exclaimed that the Lunch Box Museum was “much bigger than I expected”.   I was surprised by its size too.  In addition to the 2,000 lunchboxes on display, there are rooms full of for-sale items.  “A bit junky,” I wrote in my notebook.  This was understatement.  RoadsideAmerica.com calls the entry area of this establishment the “Barter Room” with good reason.  It would be easier to list what is not for sale here than what is.  When Ruth and I were there, old furniture was half priced.

Allen Woodall began collecting lunch boxes in the 1990s and opened the Lunch Box Museum in 1987.  He expressed amazement to me that his passion has been adopted by collectors.  Woodall now owns 3,500 lunch boxes and sells duplicates in the barter room.  Now in his 80s, Woodall attempted to get Ruth & me to buy something, anything in his antique store. Woodall tried to interest us in rare 50-year-old autos, lamps, jewelry, etc.  We could be driving around in “the best muscle truck in the world” if we had made an offer.  We could have had a Bionic Woman lunchbox for $90 or a Muppets box for $50!  Lunch boxes are only part of this large operation in a renewal-needing part of Columbus on Hamilton Road.

See it before it has a huge going-out-of-business sale.

Hank

About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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