Before you could order food from across town and get it delivered right to your school's front door, kids were clanging to and from school with their flashy metal lunch boxes. In the 1960s and 1970s, metal lunch boxes were more than just a receptacle for your sandwiches. They were a statement. Today, these lunch boxes have skyrocketed in prices. So, browse through your parents' old playthings and see which of these valuable vintage lunch boxes you can find.
7 Valuable Vintage Metal Lunch Boxes That Defined Your Childhood
Kids today spend hours picking out the perfect bookbag to carry around school, but in the 1960s and 70s, that frenzied energy was spent on lunch boxes. Truly the golden age of lunch boxes, the 1960s and 1970s had thousands of kid-centric lunch box designs come out. You made a stance about your favorite music, tv shows, or animated characters by rolling up with your particular lunch box, and part of the fun was picking out which one was cool enough to have.
Kids from the 60s and 70s would be shocked to find out just how much these cheap lunch boxes are selling for today.
|Vintage Metal Lunch Boxes
|Recent Sales Prices
|1962 Dudley Do-Right
|1965 The Beatles
|1970 H.R. Pufnstuf
|1965 The Munsters
|1966 Hogan's Heroes
|1980 Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
1962 Dudley Do-Right Lunch Box
So many iconic cartoon characters came out of the mid-century, and Rocky and Bullwinkle were two of them. But, one of the rarest metal lunch boxes you can find isn't of the squirrel and moose but rather Dudley Do-Right, a character that appeared in various episodes of the show as well as on his own in the late 60s.
This dimwitted Canadian Mountie and other characters from the show appear on a blue and purple lunch box from 1962. Recently a vintage Dudley Do-Right metal lunchbox sold for around $2,900 on eBay, due in large part to how rare this specific design is. Dudley Do-Right wasn't the smash success that other cartoons were at the time, so fewer of these lunch boxes made it all the way to the 2020s.
1965 The Beatles Lunch Box
It goes without saying that merch from The Beatles from the 1960s always sells well, and the band's 1965 blue portrait lunchbox is one fine example. Though it's not impossibly rare, it's a very popular collectible that major Beatles fans want to have in their collection. Hence, this well-kept Beatles lunch box circa 1965 recently sold for around $1,900 online.
1970 H.R. Pufnstuf Lunch Box
The 90s had a big purple dinosaur named Barney and the yellow pollywog named Gulla Gulla to satisfy their live-action puppet craze, but the 1970s had H.R. Pufnstuf. Just like McDonald's Grimace, H.R. Pufnstuf is the thing of nightmares. But ask anyone who grew up in the 70s, and they'll take one happy trip down memory lane.
We can't overemphasize enough how strange but beloved that show was, so naturally, its cult following has spiked the vintage merchandise prices. For example, this 1970 H.R. Pufnstuf lunchbox with the matching thermos recently sold for $900 on eBay.
1965 The Munsters Lunch Box
Thanks to The Addams Family and The Munsters, monsters and magic had a huge TV revival in the 1960s. The mixed-monster family in The Munsters was more lighthearted and bumbling than The Addams family, which added to their appeal. Because they've had such staying power, vintage Munsters merch sells really well, like this 1965 Munsters metal lunch box that sold for $789.99.
1972 Gunsmoke Lunch Box
Westerns had a huge revival in the 1940s and 1950s, and this bled over for kids into the following decades. Gunsmoke, which ran for years, was one of the most popular daytime western TV shows to ever exist. Because the show ended in 1975, getting merch from these last few airing years is quite hard to do. That's why this 1972 Gunsmoke lunch box with matching thermos sold for $766 on eBay.
This lunchbox also came with its original tags still intact, which can raise these vintage metal lunch boxes' values.
1966 Hogan's Heroes Lunch Box
Before M*A*S*H rocked our airwaves, Hogan's Heroes was the hit wartime TV show. The show followed the exploits of the hilarious and all-too-fictional Allied prisoners in a Nazi P.O.W. camp. And if you love game shows, you can thank Hogan's Heroes for really cementing Richard Dawson (long-time celebrity panelist on Match Game and original host of Family Feud) as a pop culture figure.
Lunch boxes from such a beloved show at the height of its fame are worth a fair bit. This Conestoga wagon-shaped box from 1966 that comes with its original thermos recently sold for $731 online.
1980 Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back Lunch Box
If you grew up in the 1970s, nothing exceeded Star Wars in popularity. Most people can still recall the first time they saw the original film in theaters and the bone-deep awe they felt. The franchise has no intention of stopping anytime soon, but the original merchandise from the first three films is among the most valuable.
Even a lunch box from the final film can still reel in a couple hundred dollars at auction. For example, this 1980 Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back lunch box with the matching thermos and insert pamphlet sold for $600 on eBay.
Things That Make Metal Lunch Boxes Extra Valuable
While it's really rare for most vintage metal lunch boxes to exceed $100 at auction, there are some things that can increase even the smallest values. So, next time you're browsing through a thrift store, keep your eyes peeled for these kinds of metal lunch boxes.
- Look for metal lunch boxes with a matching thermos. Collectors love having a complete set and will pay a little extra to get one.
- Check the boxes for any damage or rust. Seemingly unused boxes are the most valuable because of their good condition.
- Open the boxes to see if they have the original tags or inserts. It's really unusual to find these, so having them can drive prices up.
- Keep your eyes open for lunch boxes that depict popular shows, movies, cartoons, and artists. The bigger an audience for an item, the more people there are to drive up the price.
These Metal Lunch Boxes Might Be Your Golden Ticket
When you're a kid, the last thing you think about is keeping something like a lunch box around for its future value. But these clunky relics of the past resonate with so many people that it's a no brainer as to why they've made a comeback. If there's one lesson to take from this, it's that you should rethink some of that childhood stuff you've sent to storage - it might be worth a small fortune someday.