by Bradley Mason Hamlin
It all began with Hopalong Cassidy.
Hopalong Cassidy was an extremely popular (or extremely marketed, depending on how you look at it) American Western hero. I'm using the term Western hero as opposed to cowboy, but "cowboy" is probably what the kids called him, although many western heroes aren't properly cowboys in the sense that they don't work with cows.
Hopalong Cassidy was a western character invented and written by Clarence E. Mulford in 1904. Hopalong was featured in many pulp western stories and novels which led to a movie deal (beginning in 1935) of 66 films--starring William Boyd, a comic book series in the 40s, and a successful television series in 1949. And in 1950 Aladdin Industries wisely featured Hopalong Cassidy as their first character image on a lunchbox!
Note: The Hopalong box may have appeared as early as late 1949, but an important precursor to the lunch "box" was the lunch "kit." Mickey Mouse appeared as early as 1935 on an oval tin with a handle (no thermos) made by Geuder, Paeschke and Frey.
The Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox sold so well that other character boxes soon followed, and the rest is a treasure trove of pop culture history.
Lunchboxes I owned, loved, and took to school!
Let us know your favorite lunchbox from childhood or adulthood and we'll use the information in some sort of Secret Society ritual.
Okay, keep those cards & letters comin', pop culture fans!
Bradley Mason Hamlin, 9.16.06
"Lunch Box Love" by Bradley Mason Hamlin © 2006 Mystery Island Publications. All rights reserved.
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