Thursday, July 8, 2010

Collecting 1950s Plaid Lunchboxes And Picnic Collectibles

Baby Boomers Remember Growing up With Plaids: From Lunchboxes To Picnic Wares To Socks

If you want to be catapulted right back into the 1950s', think PLAID. I can still remember my plaid lunchbox filled with one of the two regular sandwiches I carried to school....bologna on rye bread or tuna fish on white toast.

Aladdin And Ohio Art Metal Lunchboxes

Many of the metal lunchboxes you will find are made by Aladdin and may have a sticker which reads "Aladdin School Lunch Kit".

Aladdin began producing metal lunchboxes in the 1940s and began licensing popular character images in the 1950s.

When buying lunchboxes look for rust, dents, scratches, wear, shiny hardware. Complete sets are more valuable and be sure the cap to the thermos is original and the texture and pattern of the thermos and metal box are the same. If you look closely at the inside of the lunchbox shown, the plaids of the lunchbox and thermos appear to be different.

Ohio Art also made plaid metal lunchboxes and are very collectible for several reasons. Some people collect everything "Ohio Art" and others are after lunchboxes or everything plaid. I have seen prices for both the sets and just the lunchbox for around $26.00-45.00.

Weekend Picnics With Plaid Koolers And Thermos Containers

And then there were the weekends in the summer when my dad pulled out his plaid picnic coolers, tins and thermos containers. And guess what...more tuna or bologna sandwiches. Today my son creates very elaborate Sandwich Wraps or Panini bread extravaganzas!

The Scotch Kooler shown sitting on the bench is copyrighted in 1952 and was made by Hamilton Metal Products, Ohio.
Advertised as airtight and waterproof, you just don't find comparable products today.

Everything was PLAID....From Socks To Lunchboxes

But back to the 1950's when plaid was the name of the game. When everything was PLAID...from your socks to your skirt to your lunchbox. Today plaid accessories sell very well in shops. In fact plaid lunchboxes in great condition with the matching thermos bottle can fetch big bucks. I made the mistake of selling a set awhile ago for too little money. Live and learn.

Earlier Plaid Picnic Tins

By the way, plaid didn't start in the 1950s, it was around earlier, but boy did the Five and Dimes and catalogs feature lots of PLAIDS during the postwar years when families could relax and enjoy themselves. The 1950's was the generation of backyard barbecues and patio living and an increase in products to make homemaking easier. The plaid double handle rectangular picnic box shown is earlier than the 1950s but may have been used by 1950s families as it was passed down from previous generations. The 1950s began the popularity of plastics and vinyl and other materials commercialized during the postwar Atomic era.

Re-Cycling Plaid Picnic Wares Today

To my surprise, plaid insulated bags sell nicely. First of all they are very practical items for today's GREEN conscious home owner's and they are usually quite affordable. Of course plaid picnic collectibles seem to be everywhere this time of the year. Dealers pack away their seasonal items and than pull them out when the weather warms up. So if you really want to equip your home with some plaid tins and thermos containers. now is the time to catch the plaid rush before the pumpkins surface.

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C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link: C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff Email me at dianne@cdiannezweig.comVisit my website, CDianneZweig.comDianne is a member of:The American Society of Journalists and AuthorsThe Authors Guild, Inc.


  1. I am crazy about plaid collectibles! I have a plaid lunch box, the skotch cooler, picnic basket, numerous thermoses and one of those plaid insulated bags which I use constantly. To me it's timeless!!

    Susan and Bentley

  2. Oh I love it, sure brought back some good memories, thanks for the share, hugs my friend.