Things Every ’80s Kid Had In Their Lunchbox

By Carole 8 months ago

1. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Image source: Reddit
Back in the 1980s, our lunch boxes were quite different to the contents they contain these days. Healthy eating wasn't up there at the top of the list. A sandwich, processed snack and a cookie or cake, was the usual lunch and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was a classic staple.

2. Slim Jims

Image source: Reddit
Slim Jims are literally transporting me back to my childhood. I would breathe a sigh of relief when the lunchtime sandwich in my box had been replaced by the long, sticks of meat snack, with a chewy texture and the smallest, synthetic hint of beef, pork and some sort of spices!

3. Zebra Cakes

Image source: Reddit
Well, a flash of nostalgia just swept through me as I recalled being left inconsolable when my mom cut my fringe too short, leaving me embarrassed as my whole forehead was exposed and I was the laughing stock of the whole grade. Only consolation was a Zebra Cake in my lunch box. Life was now only 98% bad!

4. Cheez Balls

Image source: Reddit
Cheez Balls were an '80s delight. The puffed snack in a can had an over-intense cheesy flavor which left an after taste in your mouth and yellowy orange remnants on your fingers - the two reasons why we loved them!  Kids at school would ask to "do swaps" so they could have some of your Cheez Balls. It was the one and only way to stay popular - for me!

5. Hostess Fruit Pies

Image source: Reddit
When we opened up our lunch boxes at recess and a Hostess fruit pie was staring back at us, then it was a good day! The individual pies with a choice of fillings such as apple, blueberry or cherry, were encased in flaky pastry and were delicious. One was never enough.

6. Lunchables

Image source: Mashable
Lunchables, one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century, were pre-packaged kits that catapulted school lunches to a new level - and a tastier one!  The pack had crackers, cheese (very processed but so what) and something that could be described as "meat."  It also included a small, sugary dessert.  Result!

7. Hershey's Chocolate Milk

Image source: Reddit
A ready to drink chocolate milk, packaged in a handy carton, was just the thing to wash down our sandwich at lunch time.  It had a small amount of goodness in it but we enjoyed it more because it tasted sweet and it didn't matter if it wasn't ice cold, after waiting patiently in our lunchbox all morning.

8. Dunkaroos

Image source: Reddit
There was nothing not to like about Dunkaroos.  The fun snack featured graham crackers or small cookies which you dunked into the separate container of tasty vanilla frosting.  In other words, sugar overload!  School kids liked the interactive aspect of making up their own treats.

9. Gushers

Image source: Reddit
Remember Gushers?  They were the bite sized fruity snacks with a unique twist. The outer layer was chewy and the fruit flavored center, which gushed out when you bit into it, was pure joy.  When your mom popped a packet of Gushers into your lunch box, the school day became bearable!

10. Tang

Image source: Reddit
Whoever invented Tang should get a pat on the back. Originally manufactured as a breakfast drink, this powdered orange flavored drink mix often made an appearance in a sealed beaker in our lunch box.  It was just the thing to gulp down after a bologna and cheese sandwich.

11. Go-Gurt

Image source: Reddit
When yogurts in squeezable tubes became a thing, it became cool to have them in your lunch box. It wasn't totally inappropriate to blackmail your parents for a Go-Gurt if you promised to get your uniform on in time to get out the house to catch the school bus!

12. Hi-C Ecto Cooler

Image source: Reddit
The movie "Ghostbusters" was the film of the year in 1984. To prove it, I had a Ghostbusters lunch box, as did a number of other kids in the class, which sometimes proved tricky!  When the juice box Hi-C Ecto Cooler jumped on the Ghostbuster wagon, there was no contest as to the drink of  choice we demanded.

13. Squeezits

Image source: Reddit
Squeezits were colorful plastic bottles that were filled with fruit flavored drinks.  Kids would squeeze the bottle to get to the drink through a flip top cap.  I suppose it added an element of fun to school lunches, much needed after a pointless morning of History and Science.

14. Twinkies

Image source: WGN-TV
I know you can still get Twinkies from the grocery store but these iconic American snack cakes, sponge filled with a sweet, creamy filling, just don't taste as good these days as they use to, or as we remembered them. The fake gold/yellow exterior made Twinkies a lunchbox favorite.

15. Fruit Jerky

Image source: Reddit
As well as gummy fruit snacks, a popular lunchbox choice had to be fruit leather or fruit jerky.  It sounds bad and didn't look appetizing but the end result was a definite ten out of ten.  Easy to make by pureeing fruit and drying it into a chewy sheet, fruit jerky certainly hit the spot to get any school kid through an afternoon of lesson hell.

16. Hostess Suzy Q's

Image source: Reddit
OMG - what about Hostess Banana Suzy Q.s?  They've been available since the 1960s but made a real resurgence in the '80s following a cool (at the time) advertising campaign.  They were the right size to fit inside a lunchbox so it would be rude not to do so!  The banana and cream sandwich was nice and gooey so you had to lick the remnants off your fingers afterwards.

17. Keebler Cheese/Peanut Butter Crackers

Image source: Reddit
Keebler filled crackers, the ultimate in convenience food, always delivered. There was a crispy outer layer and a filling of cheese or peanut butter. They were a good savory option although, if blindfolded, the cheese could be mistaken for any number of other processed products.

18. Fruit Roll-Ups

Image source: X.com
Fruit Roll-Ups were popular in the '80s and they had so much going for them. They were a sweet fruit snack made from pureed fruit that was dried into long, thin sheets and then rolled up so they were easy to eat  Available in different flavors, fruit roll-ups could be eaten morning, lunchtime or evening.  Well, that was what I prayed for.

19. Capri Sun

Image source: Reddit
Capri Sun has been around forever and a day so, of course, that included the 1980s.  The fruit flavored juice drink in a foil pouch was the ultimate in convenience with its attached straw. It was perfect for lunch boxes and there was no chance of leakage on to your Wonder Bread sandwich.

20. Handi-Snacks

Image source: Reddit
Following in Keebler's footsteps, Handi-Snacks was born in the '80s, treating us to a combination of cheese and crackers, wrapped up in one package. The runny cheese tended to be separate from the crackers to allow for easy dipping. Looking back, it wasn't the worst thing mom had put in my school lunchbox.

21. Fruit By The Foot

Image source: Reddit
Fruit by the Foot was a novelty sweet treat. Pretty much the same as a fruit roll up but longer, these were the candies of the decade. Whether it was the colorful packaging, the over-exposure through advertising or the excessive sugar content which had us fidgeting for hours afterwards, there was no denying its appeal.

22. Oatmeal Cream Pies

Image source: Reddit
Whoever "Little Debbie" was, I wanted to personally thank her for her "snak cakes", specifically the Oatmeal Cream Pies. They were divine, as I remember them - soft oatmeal cookies with an over sweet creamy filling hiding in the center.  They were chewy and satisfying.

23. Wonder Bread Sandwiches

Image source: Reddit
How did we ever manage without fifty different types of bread, from sourdough to seeded to wholemeal to a multitude of others? The answer is "very easily!" Pretty much every household enjoyed white, doughy bread and it was almost always Wonder Bread.  It was soft, made great sandwiches and excelled as toast.

24. Kool-Aid Bursts

Image source: YouTube
Kool-Aid Bursts were plastic bottles, mini size, filled with Kool-Aid, the drink of the '80s.  The were ideal for lunchboxes, were sweet and had at least one gram of fruit in them!  Kool-Aid Bursts were also handy for when we went on school excursions and needed to hydrate.

25. Mini Oreos

Image source: Lazada
Oreos are and always have been top of the tree when it comes to cookies. I recall being unusually and strangely excited when Mini Oreos burst on the the scene. I bargained with my mom to allow me to have four of these beauties in my lunchbox most days. I'd take the top off each one and scrape the cream off with my teeth - there, I admit it!

26. Bugles

Image source: Bugles
Bugles created entertainment during recess. We would place the crispy cone shaped corn snacks on to each of our fingers and then eat them off, one by one. They had a mild savory flavor which could have been anything but it was the texture and shape that did it for us.

27. Jell-O Pudding Cups

Image source: The Kitchn
If there were no cookies left at home to take for lunch, I had to think out of the (lunch) box as to what might be satisfying enough to take their place. Jell-O Pudding Cups were on the list. They were smooth, sweet desserts of either vanilla or chocolate and there were enough mouthfuls to fill the gap.

28. Chicken Nuggets

Image source; Reddit
One of the best things you could find in your lunchbox was cold chicken nuggets, leftovers from the night before. It didn't happen often but on the rare occasions when we were blessed to see them staring back at us, I changed my opinion and thought, "Yes, there is a god!"

29. Pop Rocks

Image source: Reddit
Pop Rocks bring back an ultimate fizz of nostalgia. They were, if you remember, fizzy candies that popped and fizzed in your mouth.  On some boring days, it was classed as a form of entertainment and school was not as dull as dishwater when there was a packet in our lunchboxes.

30. Ring Pops

Image source: Reddit
I honestly couldn't think of anything better when I was a kid in the '80 than showing off at school.  I wasn't cracking jokes or impersonating a teacher.  I was wearing a Ring Pop and  eating it at the same time. Ingenious invention or what?  Well, when you're 8 years old you have different priorities in life!

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