The 11 best vintage lunch boxes based on classic westerns

By: H&I Staff    Posted: August 9, 2021, 11:31AM

Giddyup! If anything made us feel like a cowboy when we were kids, it was filling up a lunch box like a saddlebag with beef jerky and hardtack. Okay, so it was more like PB&J and carrot sticks. Still, a cool lunch box was a conversation piece in the cafeteria. The trend of the television show lunch box began in the 1950s, at the height of the Western craze, so it's no wonder so many early tin pails came covered with mesas, U.S. Marshals, wagons, horses and bounty hunters.

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Hopalong Cassidy (1950)

With its smaller image, this red Hopalong Cassidy pail (it also came in blue) may not dazzle like the rest, but it was the pioneer. Yep, this simple beauty was the first ever licensed television show lunch box.


Lawman (1961)

Nifty action, inappropriate Wyoming colors, though Peter Brown's Deputy Marshal seems particularly young and bit a slow on the draw. The accompanying Thermos, with its stock western gear, was generic and popped up in a few of these lower ranks.


Guns of Will Sonnett (1968)

Interlocking legs and all three guns firing at the same time. Now that's teamwork. Dack Rambo looks like one cool customer — and who has a cooler name? This tie-in to the later western can be found for much cheaper on the auction block.


Wagon Train (1964)

That's a beautiful painting on the backside, uncluttered with text. Shame that a similar effort was not put into the side panels and the Thermos, which was the same generic one seen before.


The Rifleman (1960)

A nice subtle piece of storytelling here, with a no-good feller holding his wrist after what we assume was a perfectly placed shot from Lucas McCain. Appropriately, his nifty modified Winchester 1892 is all over this thing.


Have Gun – Will Travel (1960)

The black — and the white stitching — is awesome. The dapper Paladin would certainly approve, and we could image Lil' Johnny Cashes carrying this to school. The flip side was stunning, too, with Paladin driving a wagon while standing and shooting a masked bandit.


Gunsmoke (1959)

Gunsmoke spawned a few lunch boxes, largely focusing on the kid-favorite Festus. The storytelling is richest on this one, though. It's a mini Marshal Matt Dillon narrative. It's also rare. It can now fetch over a grand!


Daniel Boone (1965)

A fort on fire… Whoa! Look at that Thermos! He's FIGHTING A BEAR! We love to hear the reaction at the lunch table when that baby first came out.


The Roy Rogers Show (1957)

As much as we love the boxes covered in detailed scenes, sometimes simple is better. This gorgeous tin tote captured the glory of Trigger. This must have been like carrying a custom van by your side. We dig the stencil look, too.


Bonanza (1965)

There's a lot going on here on this, one of three different boxes produced for Bonanza. There's a bar fight on the Thermos. Hoss is wrangling some cattle. Lorne Greene is sporting a spiffy pink shirt to match the font. You could stare at it for hours.


The Wild, Wild West (1969)

This has everything. The action here is amazing. Throwing a grappling hook at a moving train! Riding a zip line over a PIT OF FIRE to kick a gun out of a hand! What!? Flames, dust, steam, smoke. It's trimmed in black. The stylized comic graphics on the Thermos are nifty, too, and a nice change of pace.