Sandwich with style

Lunchbags let kids try out trendy tastes

Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2005

 

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  Andrew Goff, a fifth-grader at Kenai Middle School, takes Shrek and his sidekick donkey to lunch. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Kylie Dimick likes a lunch box that is patterned after a backpack.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

The gymnasium at Mountain View Elementary School was quiet, but not for long.

As lunchtime approached, a few select students wheeled in plastic carts filled with soft-sided lunchbags (boxes? not these days) that contained a smorgasbord of sandwiches, juice boxes, fruit and chips.

Suddenly, hordes of children began pouring into the gym. As they filed past the carts, many dug in, looking for their individual bags. Those students who planned on eating hot lunch —the school was serving up French toast sticks — just walked past on their way to the lunch line.

The gym was soon filled with the excited voices of a couple hundred third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in the process of digging into another day's feast.

Those who chose hot lunch knew what they were getting, a sensible mix of fruit, veggies, milk, carbs and protein. But for those who brought their own lunch, their bags contained any number of snacks and goodies brought from home.

 

Canyon Bowers sports a Batman box. "He's cool because of all the action movies he's been in," Bowers said. "It's the best looking lunch box I've seen."

Photo by M. Scott Moon

The variety of food was remarkable — everything from Cup-o-Soup to Teddy Grahams poured forth from the lunchbags. Even more varied than the food, however, are the numerous designs the children's bags sport.

Over here, a SpongeBob. There, a designer bag from the Gap. A bag picked up in Disneyland. A standard paper sack.

Long gone are the days of hard-sided metal lunchboxes covered with Star Wars characters or Charlie's Angels. Today, the bags are designed to be lightweight, flexible and useful.

But despite the advances in technology (today's bags contain waterproof pouches and separate compartments for warm and cool items), the desire for children to show a little individuality with their choice of bag design is still alive and well.

"I love SpongeBob," said Mackenzie Evenson, digging into a bag shaped to look like the wildly popular cartoon character.

Evenson's bag not only looks like SpongeBob — square and yellow — it's also got a couple of extra items attached to really complete the look.

 

Kayla Heinrich's packs her lunch in a Hello Kitty box.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

"He has legs," Evenson said, unfolding the undersea hero's appendages for all to see.

Christina Glenzel also brought her own lunch. She said she wasn't impressed with the day's offering from the school, so elected to pack her own.

"I didn't like what was on the menu," Glenzel says.

Glenzel shows off her bag. Although it doesn't feature any cartoon characters, she shows her bag's best feature.

"It has another zipper here," she said, pointing to a compartment on the bottom of the bag. "That makes it two lunchboxes."

Brianna Payne got her lunchbox on a summer trip to Disneyland. She wasn't really sure she'd be using the "Nightmare Before Christmas"-themed box for lunches this year but bought the bag, she said, simply because she liked the design.

"I just thought it would be good to have," Payne said.

Kelsey Williams' brightly colored bag also was picked for its cool design.

"It's a flower lunchbox," she said, showing off a pink and purple number that matched her headband. "It's from the Gap."

 

Brianna Payne shares a laugh with friends while enjoying her lunch at Kenai Middle School. Her metal Nightmare Before Christmas lunch box has an old-school flair.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Williams' friend Leah Sandahl has a similar lunchbag, but believes hers has a slightly more attractive floral design.

"Mine's better," she said, starting a brief — but friendly — argument on the merits of the two similar bags.

Not all students are particular about what's on the outside of their bags. Some students, eager for recess, don't seem to much care for fashion, but only for getting at the food inside their bags.

"I like cold lunch because you know what you're having so you know it's something you like," Richard Han said while chowing down with a group of friends.

"We need food to keep alive," added Trey Feagin.

They may need food to stay energetic, but before the group of third-grade boys had time to finish barely half the food in front of them, they began standing up and heading for the door.

"We're going to play football," one of them said. "That's what we do."

 

Shaylee Rizzo shows off her insulated lunch box. "My favorite is desert," she said, noting that cupcakes were particularly good.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

As quickly as they came out, the boys' lunchbags got tossed back into the carts that are wheeled back to class after lunch is over. The next day, they'll be refilled with more grub, and the lunchroom will again explode with the sound and color of another day's meal.

 

Shaylee Rizzo shows off her insulated lunch box. "My favorite is desert," she said, noting that cupcakes were particularly good.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

 

Scooby-Doo is Ashley Thornton's lunchtime watchdog. Cartoon characters are popular partners on lunch box exteriors.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

 

Andrew Goff, a fifth-grader at Kenai Middle School, takes Shrek and his sidekick donkey to lunch.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

 

Mackenzie Evenson shares a laugh with Mackenzie Overton during lunch at Kenai Middle School last week. Evenson's Spongebob Squarepants lunch box features dangling feet.

Photo by M. Scott Moon



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